The Captive Kingdom (Ascendance 4) - Page 103


Captain Strick’s eyes widened into saucers and her hand covered her mouth. Wilta’s cry of horror still lingered in something between a gasp and a slow exhale.

“I didn’t like that boat anyway,” I said. “Now, release my brother and my friends, then send your fighters to the beach to surrender to the pirates.”

Wilta merely glared toward the sea with clenched teeth. That was a mistake. I shrugged, then raised and lowered my arm once more. “You should have believed me when I said I’m not good at negotiations.”

I’d anticipated the delay this time, and so within seconds of my speaking, an explosion rocked the second ship, rolling it sideways to lean against the third ship. As before, any crewman on that ship quickly jumped into the water.

“Did you see that?” I asked.

She had. Panicked, Wilta motioned to Lump. “Untie the prisoners. The rest of you, leave this overlook.”

Quickly, the Prozarians left, except Lump, who was untying Amarinda, and Mercy, whose face looked as if he too might explode.

He freed Roden, who grabbed Tobias’s arm. “Let’s help the pirates.”

Tobias stepped back. “How?” Maybe Tobias didn’t want to fight the Prozarians. Maybe he didn’t want to leave Amarinda up here with Darius. Either way, he protested the entire time that Roden pushed him along the trail.

Wilta asked me, “How are you doing that? I will agree to nothing more until you explain.”

“It must be those crates of weapons,” her mother said. “We transferred one crate onto each ship. Roden warned they may have some gunpowder on them.”

“They had gunpowder in them,” I said. “You willingly carried to each ship the method of your own destruction.”

“We can end this now.” Wilta held out her hand. “Give me the third lens and we’ll leave Belland.”

“I have no

lens to give you. It was only from thin luck that I even made it out alive.”

“You lost the lens?” The sudden rage in her eyes was alarming. “I’ll make you wish you hadn’t made it out alive.”

I glanced over at Darius and Amarinda, stunned at Wilta’s boldness. “They’re still threatening me? Will one of you remind them that I am currently exploding their only escape from this island?”

Amarinda said, “Please do as Jaron asks. Vengeance will cost far more than you have already lost. Learn that lesson now, and go home, in peace.”

Strick shook her head. “If we leave now, it will not be in peace.”

I said, “You’ve worked hard to understand me, but I think I understand you too. You are a coward, Captain Strick. Like all cowards, you attack because you feel weak. You gain respect through fear and threats because nothing else works for you. I pity that.”

Darius added, “There will never again be any agreements between us. Long after your time has passed, the true king of Carthya will continue to reign.”

“We do not fear you.” Strick’s eyes turned as cold as I still felt. “We will come for you, Darius, after you have become fat and comfortable on your throne.”

At her side, Wilta turned and raised her arm to signal to the Prozarians below. “It’s the weapons crates,” she called. “Find them and —”

“Don’t lower that hand!” I reached around her back in an attempt to stop her, but she pushed me away, barely casting a glance at me. Instead, her eyes flew toward the harbor when the third ship exploded.

I clicked my tongue. “I did warn you. Now, you and all your people will abandon Belland with a vow never to return again, nor to make any further demands on these people.”

“Belland is ours!”

“No, I don’t think so. Listen to the name of the people who live here: Bellanders. Did you hear how their name sounds like their country?” I pulled my hand from my pocket and raised my arm high. “I assume that you come from somewhere that sounds like your name. Where is that? Prozaria? Prozar? Prozariamalaria?”

“Never!”

“That is another mistake.” At my signal, the fourth ship exploded, this one so violently that the ship actually seemed to have momentarily leapt from the water.

Two ships now remained in the harbor: their flagship and the Shadow Tide.


Tags: Jennifer A. Nielsen Ascendance Fantasy
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