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Chapter 25

Sean watched as Rakcigion and Caniciat tied up the mermen involved in the drug operation with short lengths of rope produced from Caniciat’s pack. The ones that were badly injured were patched up. It was battlefield medicine, meant to hold them together until more skilled help was available.

The first aid itself was fascinating to watch. In some ways it was similar to what humans did. Where humans had cloth or gauze, mers had a fiber that, when introduced to blood, stuck together and sealed the wound over. Some gooey thing was spread into the deeper wounds before the fiber was packed in and stiff shells were used like clamps to pinch wounds closed.

Once none of the band of criminals was in danger of dying or escaping, Rakcigion and Caniciat set off to rifle through the camp and see what they found. There had been small tent-like structures, made in the same way that the homes at Itait had been, with seaweed and bone. These structures however had been pretty much destroyed in the fight. Rakcigion and Caniciat had to root around in the sand to find the remains of the tents and then root around some more to find what the tents had contained.

They were fast about it though, using powerful sweeps of their tails to shift the sand and uncover the buried tents. Rakcigion went through the contents of each tent quickly and efficiently. From what Sean could see from a distance, there had been quite a lot of drugs at this camp and there was also quite a bit of variety. When they finished grabbing everything, the two mermen swam back to where Sean was sitting in the sand.

“What is it?” Sean asked. Rakcigion was frowning hard, his eyes narrowed.

“There’s no cochlen shell,” Rakcigion explained. “There’s not even traces of it in any of their bags.”

“Maybe they left the bags when they sold out?” Sean asked.

“Maybe,” Rakcigion replied, eyes still hooded. He turned to Caniciat. “I think we need to wake one of them up.”

Caniciat cocked his head at him. “You have a theory,” he observed.

“I have a theory,” Rakcigion agreed. “Let’s wake one up.”

“Alright,” Caniciat said. The two circuit members turned around and headed back to where they’d left the unconscious drug dealers.

Sean watched them go and then suddenly his instincts prickled. He didn’t even have time to shout a warning before the first one erupted from the rocks that surrounded the valley and plowed into his father. The second hit Caniciat a bare moment later and the two mers went spinning off through the water.

“Dad!” Sean shouted struggling to his feet in utter panic. The merman attacking Rakcigion was quick and precise. He showed none of the sluggish motions of the previous drug dealers and nearly ten times their skill. Rakcigion had been hit but he recovered from the ambush in record time, using the momentum of the slash to spin around and deliver a clawed slash of his own. The merman he was fighting twisted out of the way just in time and flicked his tail at Rakcigion. Blood billowed in the water and the merman moved in a second later, not giving Rakcigion any time to recover.

Rakcigion apparently didn’t need any time to recover. As far as Sean knew he’d been ready for his attacker because he blocked the first two blows, deflected a third, delivered a wicked elbow straight to the gills of his attacker and evaded another dangerous tail slice.

The attacker dodged one of his father’s many blows, stopped another by grabbing his father’s wrist and then brought in his other hand for another dangerous blow. Rakcigion managed to use his other hand to catch his attacker’s free hand and then ended the fight with a quick twisting motion. The attacker jerked and it was only when he fell back that Sean saw the curved knife embedded between his ribs. His father had used his enemy’s own weapon to kill him.

Sean stared for a second and then whirled to see what had happened to Caniciat only to be greeted by more blood. Caniciat’s attacker lay at his tail, pinned to the ground by virtue of one of Caniciat’s swords through his shoulder. Movement had him looking over his shoulder to see his father swimming over. Rakcigion brushed past him, a quick touch on Sean’s shoulder let him know that his father was okay despite the blood still streaming from his wounds.

“Hello,” Rakcigion said to their captive. He bent over the mer who was still struggling to free himself from the sword.

“Don’t,” Caniciat warned him. He touched the mer’s tail lightly with a long dagger he’d apparently produced from somewhere. Sean couldn’t ever remember seeing it. The merman however stilled at the implication that his tail would be stabbed through as well. He hissed tough, ears going back, teeth baring threateningly at them.

Rakcigion smiled. It was a sunny smile. It was the smile a cat gave when he’d caught the canary. “We are the agents of the sovereign of Teroceanican. We are here on a mission of justice for those of the unruled lands who have chosen to accept the justice and the mercy that our sovereign has chosen to extend to those outside of his rule. In order to complete our mission, we have a few questions for you. I am going to ask you those questions. You’re going to answer them. If you fail to do so then my compatriot will ask you. He will not ask nicer than me and he is very, very capable.”

The merman spat something out in the languages of the merfolk. Sean didn’t actually need to be proficient to figure out this either. The merman had basically told them he wasn’t going to say anything. Though judging by the tone, it was probably closer to a ‘go to hell’ than a wordier refusal.

Rakcigion’s smile turned a little dangerous and far brighter. He spat something out in merspeak so pleasantly Sean almost shivered. The merman opened his mouth to reply but Rakcigion cut him off.

“Cochlen shell. Do you sell it?”

The merman hissed again and Rakcigion said calmly. “Your refusal to answer isn’t going to stop us from figuring out the truth. One of your men will sell you out when we ask. It’s best if you answer, control the flow of information. Don’t you think?”

The mer hissed something at them, going into great detail. Caniciat and Rakcigion’s faces hardened and Caniciat pushed the sword pinning the mer to the ground further, making sure to twist it a little.

“Whoa!” Sean shrieked. “What was that for?!!”

“He just insulted our sovereign pretty creatively,” Rakcigion said calmly. “I’m not crying over it.”

“It is torture,” Sean pointed out.

“Different country, different rules,” Rakcigion reminded him but he softened a little.

“Not different morals,” Sean said pointing to himself. “Can we leave the torture out of it?”

“Fine,” Rakcigion said. He turned to the captured mer. “Since my associate doesn’t want to see you tortured, why don’t you answer the question before I see you dead?”

Sean gaped at him. The merman looked between the two of them and then shook his head. Rakcigion flicked his eyes at Caniciat who made to flick the blade he was holding into the mer’s throat.

“No!!!” The merman yelled.

Caniciat held onto the blade. Rakcigion smiled at the mermen. “Talk,” he demanded. Ten minutes later the merman finished babbling out his answers to the questions that Rakcigion and Caniciat asked him. Sean didn’t understand a thing because the whole interrogation was done in mer-speak and no one was bothering to translate this time. Eventually though the interrogation came to an end and then after another quick look between Caniciat and Rakcigion, Rakcigion leaned over the mer and punched him hard in the face. The mer fell unconscious and Caniciat pulled out his sword and Rakcigion quickly performed first aid on the wound and then tied him up and dumped him with the rest of the unconscious drug dealers.

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