The Captive Kingdom (Ascendance 4) - Page 40


I was happy to return the glare, though I added, “Can you wrap my leg before I bleed to death?”

He glanced down at his medical bag, then tossed it into my lap. My lip curled as I considered inviting him out of the boat, but Wilta quickly leaned forward to take the bag from me. “I’ll do it.” She dug through the contents until she found a roll of bandages.

Tobias grunted. “No, I’ll do it.”

He reached for a knife to begin cutting my trousers, but I shook my head. “Absolutely not.”

“I’ve got to get at that wound.”

“How am I supposed to fight with one trouser leg flapping about in the breeze?”

“What makes you think you’ll be fighting?” Tobias paused. “Oh, because you’re you.” He began wrapping the wound directly over my trousers. “Who did this?”

“The person I’m going to have to fight.”

“I don’t think Roden intended to hurt you,” Wilta said. “I saw his face afterward.”

“Does it matter what he intended?” Fink asked.

She turned to him. “Who are you?”

“No one,” I said, motioning to Fink to keep his mouth closed.

Wilta pressed her lips together. “I will earn your trust, Jaron. You have certainly earned mine.”

“It isn’t personal,” Fink said. “No one earns his trust.”

&

nbsp; “What about Amarinda?” Tobias asked. “We’re not leaving her behind.”

“We’ll wait here for as long as we can,” I said. Which was hardly the comfort he wanted. But it was all I could give.

“She won’t know we’re tethered to the ship,” Tobias said. “How can you be angry with me for keeping secrets when you never bothered to tell me the details of this lifeboat?”

“I worked on the lifeboat, not Jaron.” Fink pointed to the bow of the lifeboat, where a rope was knotted between the lifeboat and an eye hook in the ship’s hull. It kept us in the ship’s wake, so this was hardly a comfortable ride, but there was no angle from the ship at which we might be spotted.

Fink leaned back in the boat and sighed. “I have to say, that was one of the easier escapes we’ve ever had.”

I looked at him. “We were nearly drowned, exploded, and drowned again, and Amarinda is still missing. How was that easy?”

“I didn’t say it was easy. I said it was easier.”

Tobias wasn’t finished either, becoming increasingly worried for Amarinda. “They’ll know she unlocked the closet! They’ll ask her how all of us escaped! The punishment you should be receiving right now, Jaron, or me — what if they do that to her?”

“Strick won’t harm her,” Wilta said. “She will question her, yes, maybe withhold meals, but nothing more.”

“What about Roden?” Fink asked. “Is he in danger?”

His question hung in the air for several seconds before Wilta said, “He stabbed Jaron’s leg. Whether that signals a true shift in his loyalties or not, the captain will respect that he fought for her.”

I turned to Tobias, who kept searching the waters around us, as if Amarinda might spontaneously appear there. “She’ll be all right until we can get her back.”

“Why do you think that? Because Wilta says so? Because you believe everything will work out for you in the end?”

“No, because she is smart and she is strong, and because she has been in difficult situations before and knows what to do.”

That seemed to settle Tobias down, at least for the moment.


Tags: Jennifer A. Nielsen Ascendance Fantasy
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