The Captive Kingdom (Ascendance 4) - Page 45


“Yes, but they’re also off course by four degrees. We need to plot our course and correct for that difference.”

Mott smiled. “I can do that, but you need to stop bleeding on our clean deck.” He pointed to my leg. “Roden’s work?”

I’d almost forgotten about my leg, but it had bled through Tobias’s wrapping. “How did you know it was him?”

“It looks like his style.”

After that, Tobias, Fink, and I answered their questions. About Amarinda, something Tobias clearly still blamed on me, about Fink stowing away, which Imogen also seemed to blame on me — “He must have thought you’d be proud of him if he went there.” And about the state in which I had left the Shadow Tide upon our escape. That one actually was my fault.

But this led to the most difficult question, the one that I could not answer: What should we do now?

We took a break from that question long enough for Fink to go to bed, and Mott to adjust our course, leaving me alone with Tobias and Imogen.

Imogen brushed her hand over the bandage Tobias had knotted around my thigh. “I still can’t believe that Roden stabbed you.”

I shrugged. “He had no choice. He had to do something dramatic enough to convince the captain that he is on her side.”

Tobias frowned. “Can you be sure that he isn’t?”

“He’s still loyal to us, Tobias.”

“After what he did — after everything he’s done, I don’t see how you can still have any faith in him.”

“Well, he is my friend.”

“He’s doing what he always does — switching loyalties in an attempt to work his way up the ladder.”

I snorted. “Working for Captain Strick is hardly moving to a higher rung of the ladder.”

“How do you know he considers you a friend?”

“Do I really have to explain this? As long as he doesn’t try to kill me again, we are still friends.”

“And how do you know that he won’t try something?”

My shrug should have been enough of an answer. But it wasn’t, so I added, “All I can say is that if he does, then he’s a terrible friend.”

“He stabbed you, Jaron. That’s all I need to know.” Imogen gestured at the items I had brought with me from the Shadow Tide. “When did Roden know about these?”

Tobias frowned. “I should confess that Roden told me about the crown before Jaron found out. If you’re blaming Roden for that, blame me too.”

“We’re leaving that behind us now.” I waited to catch his eye before I continued, “Unless you have anything new to confess.”

“I don’t, I swear it.”

“I will get Darius’s sword back as soon as possible. And mine as well.”

“Can we talk about Amarinda again?” Imogen asked. “You said that they chose her specifically — obviously to meet Darius. Doesn’t that suggest it’s really him on Belland?”

“It suggests that the captain believes it’s him,” I said. “Not that it is him.”

“Strick is a known liar,” Imogen said. “Whether she believes it’s Darius or not is irrelevant, because either way, she’s proven that she is willing to lie to you.”

“But Wilta also says it’s true, that Darius is there,” Tobias said.

Imogen frowned. “The same Wilta who was kissing Jaron’s cheek earlier? You want me to believe anything she says?”

Mott ducked into the room where we were meeting, returning to his seat as before. “I agree with Imogen. Using your brother against you is a cruel weapon, but no doubt they believed it was a powerful one.”


Tags: Jennifer A. Nielsen Ascendance Fantasy
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