The Captive Kingdom (Ascendance 4) - Page 33


The sapphire set into the pommel had a scratch across the center. Darius had done that when he tried to follow me up a wall of the castle years ago. He’d slipped and fallen hard enough to sprain his ankle. He never climbed again, and I’d gotten in trouble for urging him to try it.

With that confirmation, any sentimental feelings within me vanished, replaced with something beyond anger. The sudden burning in my chest was a desire for vengeance against Strick, and whoever got in my way on my path to her.

“You wanted your distraction,” I said to Tobias. “Get Amarinda down here, then I want the three of you in that lifeboat immediately. This will be your only chance.”

I flung open the door, wielding Darius’s sword against two vigils who must have recently replaced Teagut. “Step aside or I will strike,” I warned them.

They obeyed and I pushed past them, marching directly to the crewmen’s bunks, where Teagut was lying on his bed. He sat up and stared at me with an open mouth. I reached into my jerkin and tossed him the sack of gold coins. “Go to the sick bay. Do whatever they ask.”

Then I rounded the corner to reach the steps for the main deck. Roden stood in front of them, his eyes locking on mine. He knew I would be here. He knew why I’d be here. And that made me angrier than ever.

Behind me, Tobias put a hand on my shoulder. “Come back into the sick bay.”

I pushed his hand away and growled, “How much

of this did you two know?”

“I warned you to leave —” Roden began.

“No, I’m asking what you knew! What you still know and aren’t telling me!”

A spark flickered in his eyes before he finally answered. “Earlier this morning, the captain told me she had gotten these directly from Darius. I didn’t tell you because I thought she was lying —”

“She is lying. Darius is dead.”

“Maybe he’s not. A lot of what she claims makes sense. But I didn’t want to come to you with this news until I was sure. I swear that I would have told you when I thought you’d be ready.”

“You had no right to make that decision for me! You had no right to keep this a secret!”

“How many secrets have you kept from us? How many do you still keep?” His eyes flashed. “Tell me, right now, is there anything about this voyage that you have not shared with me?”

“Count on it.”

“Well, I’m telling you everything now. Go back to the sick bay. I’ll tell the captain you are having sick delusions. She might trust me enough to believe that.”

“That’s an interesting way of putting it, since you’ve done so well in losing my trust.”

Roden reached for my arm, but I shook it off. “Listen to me,” he said. “I am trying to help you. But you must return to the sick bay and give up this fight, at least for now.”

I raised the sword. “I never give up.”

“I know that.” Roden’s expression changed, but not to anger as I would have expected. Instead, his brows pressed low and his eyes softened to sadness. “But this one time, I wish more than anything that you would.”

I started toward Roden but he crossed directly in front of the steps. “You’re not getting past me.”

“I’ll go past you or go through you, your choice.” I raised my brother’s sword. “Where is the captain?”

He sighed and stepped aside. “The wardroom. Don’t do this, Jaron.”

“The wardroom?” I arched a brow. “Good. I’m hungry.” I turned back to Tobias. “Didn’t I already give you other orders?”

“You’re only making this worse….” He brushed a hand over the nape of his neck. “Just listen to us.”

“To you?” I looked from him back to Roden. “The two people on this ship who I thought were my friends have proven themselves nearly as deceitful as my enemies. Why does the captain have my brother’s sword and crown?”

Roden’s eyes widened. “You have the crown too? They were supposed to be her secret.”

“Your secret as well, obviously.” I turned to Tobias. “And you stood face-to-face with the captain as she claimed that I killed my parents. Why didn’t you defend me?”


Tags: Jennifer A. Nielsen Ascendance Fantasy
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