The Captive Kingdom (Ascendance 4) - Page 92


She smiled back. “Were you not in that same performance yourself once? Or did you think no one but you could play that role?”

“I played it better,” I said. “You were found out.”

“It was only a good guess on your part. If you think you got information from me, I got just as much from you.” She leaned in closer and whispered, “If you want to live now, you will give me everything else.”

I glanced back at Roden, who did and said nothing to help me. I understood why. He had asked for my trust. He had never guaranteed my life.

You’re out of options.” Wilta smiled over at Roden. “Thanks to him.”

I glanced away. I had better things to look at than either of them. Such as the nearest patch of mud.

Roden eyed me with suspicion. “Unless he wanted me to bring him here. One of the few things I have learned from Jaron is how to be hard to predict.”

“Have you?” I asked. “Because honestly, I had predicted you would do the obvious and search me for weapons before bringing me so close to your monarch.”

Roden grunted and reached for my sword, only to realize it was not there. He raised one brow, obviously confused. “You came all this way without a weapon?”

“Would you consider that … unpredictable?” I lifted Tobias’s bag. “Yet I am not defenseless. He has a roll of bandages in here. If I throw them, they might hit you in the eye.”

“We can’t risk that.” Wilta stepped down from her perch and took the bag to begin searching it herself. “Where is Darius? I specifically asked for both of you.”

He should have been here by now. Maybe he was worse at knots than I had expected.

I made my smile match hers. “Planning something worthy of a king. I’m only the distraction.”

She blinked hard, clearly irritated. “We’ll make sure you become a fine distraction. You’re going to give me everything I ask.”

I snorted. “Absolutely I will, if you are asking for a humiliating defeat.”

Roden’s search of me was thorough. In checking other pockets, he removed two knives, some nuts I had hoped to eat as a midday meal, and the petals of a flower I thought Imogen might like.

Wilta said, “Last night when we were in the cave, I think you saw something.”

“Other than you crying like a helpless infant?”

Her mouth pressed into a thin line. She returned to her seat and motioned again to the vigils behind her. “Bring my mother here.”

While we waited, I turned to Roden. “You claimed you can predict my plans. What do you think is about to happen?”

He glanced sideways at me. “You’re going to fake an injury, expecting me to force you back to your feet, in which case you’ll start a fight and hope to give Darius time for whatever he’s about to do.”

I grinned. “Obviously that is not my plan … anymore.”

“But it will all be a distraction for a larger plan involving help from your friends.”

My grin widened. “Trust me, you will love that part of the plan.”

Wilta said, “Whatever the plan was, it’s over now. We have your brother.”

Confused, I turned to glare at her. “Darius?”

Roden leaned in to me. In a quieter voice, he said, “Fink.”

As quickly as he had spoken, my blood ran cold. “Where did you find him?”

“I tried to tell you before.” Roden frowned. “We followed Imogen and Trea when they left that hut. Imogen led us directly to everyone else, right before I came to get you. Tobias was the only one to escape, but he’ll soon be found too.”

I cursed under my breath, then asked Wilta, “Who do you have?”


Tags: Jennifer A. Nielsen Ascendance Fantasy
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