The Captive Kingdom (Ascendance 4) - Page 69

“You’d better give me a good meal after this,” I said. “If not, then go away.”

Now the narrow man entered the cell, almost seeming to carry his shadow with him. I immediately understood why. As physically intimidating as Lump was, this man was his very opposite: ghostly pale, thin and willowy, and controlled enough to hold his body together in a tight straight line. Round glasses distorted his long face, and not in a good way. They shrank his eyes into cold, almost lifeless, beads.

“You must be named Mercy,” I said. “Were your parents great believers in irony?”

He didn’t flinch, or blink, or show the slightest hint of any emotion whatsoever.

“I know this is what you do,” he replied. “You believe if you can make someone angry, it will disrupt their plans. That won’t work with me.”

“It doesn’t work with Lump either.” I frowned over at him, full of pity. “Mostly because he can’t understand half my insults.”

It turned out Lump was a kicker, after all. I regretted not knowing that before remaining on the ground.

“We are here for answers,” Mercy said. “Tell us where the Devil’s Scope is.”

“Personally, I think any object with such a name should be avoided. Perhaps if it were called the Dessert Scope, or the Happiness Scope —”

Lump kicked me again, harder this time, and near the injury in my leg. Once I regained my breath, I’d have to get out of reach from his boots.

Mercy continued as if I had not spoken. “Give us the scope now and make this easier on yourself.”

I still hadn’t fully recovere

d from the last kick, but I said, “Actually, you should release me and make things easier on that scope. I’m counting each hit you give to me. Will that pretty glass lens be able to take the same number of hits?”

Mercy’s eyes flashed, the first sign that he had human emotions. “Refuse to give me the answers I want, and we’ll move on to torture.”

“Refuse to release me, and I will torture that scope.”

Now his face twisted. “What does that mean, that you’ll torture the scope?”

I made myself stand again, though I was certain I’d regret it. “I can do this all day. Anything you do to me, I will make sure it is done to that scope and its lens. But first, I will destroy your entire fleet, force all Prozarians to scatter from this land like the cowards you are, and ensure that whenever you even think my name in the future, you will shudder and curse my existence.” I looked over at Lump. “Though in all fairness, I planned to do all of that even before you hit me.”

Lump rewarded my speech with a fist to my eye, which would likely leave it bruised and a little swollen. It hurt, but it wouldn’t change my threats. I could accomplish everything I wanted with only one good eye.

I staggered forward, crashing hard into Mercy and wrapping my arms around his waist to keep from falling. He brushed me off as one might an eager dog, but I somehow remained on my feet.

“It doesn’t work to hurt him. He only gets meaner,” Roden said, walking down the steps to enter the prison room. “If he hasn’t talked yet, anything you do will make him more determined not to speak to you.”

“He’s speaking plenty,” Lump said. “That’s the problem.”

“Yes, but I’m finished speaking with you two, so you’re dismissed.” I turned to Roden. “Get them out of here, and then you and I can talk.”

“The captain wants to see you both at once,” Roden said. “The pirates attacked a group of Prozarians last night, and she wants you to confine them to their ship from now on.”

Mercy shook his head. “Our orders were to remain here until he gives us answers.”

“I have a few questions of my own that you might be able to answer,” I said. “How can Lump be so big and still hit like a kitten?”

Lump started forward but Mercy put an arm in front of him, holding him back.

“Mercy, if you tell me his name, I’ll promise not to make fun of you when you’re not looking.”

This time, they both started forward, but Roden said, “The captain gave you new orders! I won’t take the blame if she finds out you ignored them.”

Mercy obeyed only after a long glare at Roden, but Lump followed him up the stairs without a word.

Roden waited until they were gone, then said, “Those are her top enforcers. You shouldn’t have made them angry.”

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