Decker’s words hissed from his mouth like a snake. He laughed. “I don’t want both of you, although the boy is a consolation prize. The man with the red army will be pleased to know I captured the person who helped you escape his grasp.”
The man with the red army? Farenan. He must have sent men to the town in the night to find us. It made sense now. “So what did Farenan pay you to collect me for him?”
“Yes, Farenan. That was his name.” Captain Decker leaned in closer to my face, a sour expression lingered on his face. “The bounty on your head was much more than your friend paid me. I have to admit that I was planning on delivering you north without any complications, but I just couldn’t resist the gold.”
I was at a loss for words. My magic burned through my veins trying to calm me, but it wasn’t helping. We should have been more careful. We should have taken the long way around with Nell, but it was too late now.
“Don’t look so sad, little lady.” Decker was so close to my face his vile breath lingered in the air around me. “I’ve been wondering though. Why would a man of so much power pay such a high price for a girl like you? Then I thought to myself. There must be something special about you. Why don’t you tell me what Farenan wants with you?”
A smile crossed my face. He wanted my secret. I had gone sixteen years without telling a single soul what I was. I certainly wasn’t going to tell this man.
“No? Nothing?” Decker scratched his sparsely covered chin. “Are you one of his servants with dangerous secrets? Did you steal something from him? Why are you going north? Tell me, girl. What is it that he wants from you?”
“You have no idea what you are getting yourself into.” All I could do was smile. If Decker wanted to get in the middle of Farenan and me, I wasn’t going to stop him. His greed might even help me in the end when Farenan caught up with this ship. Maybe if I planted a seed in Decker’s head he would take us where we needed to go. “I have something of great power that Farenan wants. I’ve hidden it in the north.”
“What is it?” The Captain laughed as he hissed his order. He had taken the bait, but that was all I was going to give him. That was all he needed to know. I smiled again, but didn’t speak.
The Captain’s face melted into a sly smile. “No need to say, little lady. Once I have my hand on the power you speak of, Farenan will have to bow to me. I will be rich beyond belief.”
Just like that, Decker was running for the ladder, climbing the stairs to the deck. I could hear him shouting orders to his men above. The ship changed course. I could feel the shift in the sea outside the hull. We were heading deeper into Northern waters. Closer to my people. I guess we wouldn’t be meeting with Farenan after all.
I pulled myself to my feet. The sea rocked the ship slightly making it hard for me to stand. I wasn’t used to the uneven sway. Slowly, every step took me closer to the ladder that lead above. The sun was bright, disorienting, but I let my magic guide me and take over my senses. It helped, keeping me upright. I watched the clouds flow past the opening, longing to be back on land.
A faint moaning came from the small room at the bow. Arsan. I ran as quickly as I could to the room in front of me, stumbling a few times from the sway of the ship and the restraint of the shackles, but with every step getting better at staying upright.
Arsan was groaning in obvious pain. I wanted to help him, caress his face. If only I could do more. I wished I could comfort him, but the cell was locked and there were no keys in the room that I could see.
“Arsan,” I called softly. He stirred slightly. Slowly he peeked at me through swollen eyes.
“Arsan, please.” I wanted to feel his touch, his hand in mine letting me know it was ok. He didn’t move. He only lay there with his arms wrapped around his chest, ragged breaths cutting the silence. “Try not to move. I don’t know how badly you’re hurt.”
“What happened?” His words were quiet. I almost didn’t hear the question.
“Decker has betrayed us. He was going to take us to Farenan, but now I think he wants my power for himself.” I brushed the hair from Arsan’s face.
“He knows about your magic?”
“No, but he thinks I have something of power hidden up north. He will take us where we need to go. Let’s just hope that Nell can find us when we hit land again.” I didn’t know how she would do it, but somehow she must. If she came for us, Decker wouldn’t have a chance. She would kill him and we would be free.
Arsan pulled himself to the bars of his cell, propping himself up next to me, even though I told him not to move. He touched my hand with his. It was trembling and cold. “If I don’t make it through this, I need you to do something for me.”
“Don’t even speak like that. You will get through this.” My heart raced in my chest at the way he spoke. My magic warmed me to calm me back down, but it wasn’t enough.
“I’m the guy who helped you escape the monastery, remember? I’m worth nothing to Decker, and Farenan will surely kill me for what I’ve done.” Arsan’s hand rose to my face. He brushed my cheeks as they turned rosy under his touch. “I don’t have much hope.”
“There is always hope.” I let my magic seep through my fingers and touch Arsan’s life force. It intertwined with it, weaving its healing powers through Arsan’s body.
Arsan smiled. It was weak, almost as if he didn’t believe my words. “Please, just do me one thing. Find my sister if you can. I don’t know where to even begin to look, but please promise me you will try.”
My heart broke for him. His face was pressed against the cold iron pleading with me for his sister. How could I say no? I didn’t know how to find her, but if I made it through this, I would try. “I promise you, Arsan. I will use all the magic within me to find your sister.”
“Thank you.” Arsan slumped back down against the iron bars, his eyes closing. His breath was still ragged, but the pain seemed to be less. His magic was helping to heal his wounds too, but it would still take time. Time we might not have.
I sat motionless for a long time, feeling like Arsan and I were the only people on the ship, trapped on this endless ocean. We had talked for a long time. About his family. About what little I could remember of my family, but somehow I couldn’t stop watching his expressions. They were so full of emotion. He could go from happy to sad, then back to happy again all within a few seconds. It was amazing to watch.
Foot steps rumbled down the ladder. A shadow crossed the floor of the dark innards of the ship and came to stop inside the dimly lit circle of light I was in. It was Decker again. “What do you want?”
“I’ve brought you some food.” Decker threw a tin plate on the floor. It had a piece of dry crusted bread on it, barley enough to stop the growling in my stomach. There was also a canteen of water. I could hear the sloshing of the liquid inside and it reminded me of the thirst I had. I picked up the canteen and took a swig. The water was warm and musty, but it would do. I reached inside the iron bars and helped Arsan take a drink. He choked and spat as I poured the water into his mouth, but he managed to keep some down.
“Now, girl.” Decker folded his arms over his chest and took up a wide stance over me. “Tell me more about this power that you have hidden?”
Arsan was watching me, waiting to see what I was going to tell Decker. He shook his head letting me know not to say anything, but I had to tell him something. Enough to keep him on the hook still.
I stood and looked Decker in the eyes, trying my hardest to keep my face calm. “It’s a weapon of great power.”
“I know that much, tell me more.” Decker was insistent.
Arsan had climbed to his feet on the other side of the iron bars. He slipped his hand into mine, letting me know he was there.
I smiled at Decker, a small sly smile, trying my hardest to mimic the way Nell had spoken to me. “Release Arsan and I will tell you more.”
Decker scratched his chin as he lingered around the edge of light, snickering uncontrollably, a grin plastered to his face. I hated his smug reactions. My magic was building in my veins, every inch of me tingling. I clenched my fists to hold it in.
“What makes you think I’m going to do that? If you don’t tell me what I want I will kill the boy. Then I will get what I want and you, well, you can imagine.” Decker pulled a knife from his waist band and held it out toward Arsan.
The burn from my magic was spreading rapidly causing my hands to shake. I could have controlled myself, but I didn’t want to, I was too angry. My fist balled up tightly feeling like burning balls of fire and I let them loose.
I smacked the knife from Decker’s hand. It flew through the air, skidding through the door way and out into the open hull of the ship. I took one good swing. My fist connected with flesh. Decker was sent flying into the wall. His body hit with a crack, leaving the wood behind him splintered and bowed out. The Captain slumped to the floor unconscious. His nose gushing red blood down his face.
I hated myself for losing control, but a sense of satisfaction filled me. At least it felt nice to release some of my anger on a much deserving host.
I searched through Decker’s pockets till I found the keys to the cell door. I didn’t know what we would do after Arsan was free, but I trusted the burning from my magic and opened the lock.
“Wow, I didn’t know you could do that?” The surprise on Arsan’s face was enough to make my cheeks burn bright with embarrassment.
I shrugged my shoulders. “Neither did I.”
As the power of my magic surged through my veins, I picked up Decker by the collar of his shirt and dragged him out of the cell room and into the open hull. I trudged through the blackness of the ship till the dim light from above met me. With the strength that flowed through me, I dragged Decker up the ladder with only one hand. I threw him on the deck, letting his unconscious body drape awkwardly where it landed.
The cool breeze of the ocean caressed my face on deck. The sun was setting casting its purple tones across the water. It was cold, sending a chill down my spine.
No one looked up from their task or even took notice of me and the limp body I had dropped on the deck. My rage was still present surging through my veins. I found the closest thing to throw, which happened to be a barrel of drink, and threw it overboard.
I looked up to find everyone still, watching me, waiting, wondering what I would do next. They didn’t look scared but wonder was on their faces. Now was the time to assert my authority. I took a deep breath and said the first thing that came to mind. “Listen here. This ship will take us to where we want to go. If anyone has a problem with that they can join the Captain on the deck.”