“No one knew about my experiments. I’ve shared by ideas with other scientists before only to have them stolen. I don’t share anything now. That seems safest.”
“You and I must have a different idea of ‘safer’. Your procationary tactics may cost you your life. They do not seem so safe,” the questioner chided him.
“I told you I’ve told people about my experiments before and they only steal my work. Keeping things secet just made sence,” Dan could only hope that the questioners believed him. He feared that the quesetioner saw through his boasting when men in uniforms surrounded him and grabbed his arms in tight holds.
The men marched him outside where hangman’s stocks could be seen. Dan felt his stomach drop. He thought that the questioners were only threatening his death to scare him. Dan assumed that the king wanted his invention and more to come. He thought he was safe... Now he was terrified!
Dan relized he was holding his breath when men marched up to the stocks. He could only pray that the questioners were not going to force him to join these men or torture him into doing something even less pleasant!
“You see those men up there?” Asked the questioner. He did not wait for an answer before continuing. “They are the pirates from the ship you found. My guards tell me that you saved these men. I am sorry to see your efforts go to waist.”
“What do you mean go to waste?”
“The penalty for piracy is death. They are to be hung.” The questioner gave his signal and the floor beneath the pirates dropped. Their feet kicked out and they suddenly fell still. “We will find the people you are protecting. If you make me look your friends will begg to be hung before my men are through torturing them. If you tell me who they are now instead of making me look than I will allow your friend to continue helping you.”
“I don’t know why you think I’m protecting anyone.”
“I think a night in the dungeon will improve your mood.” The questioner motioned to the guards and Dan was taken away.
Light blinded Dan. He squinted at the sillouquetted figure in the doorway while being pulled towards the sun. Dan tried to climb to his feet to keep from being dragged but the tight bindings made his legs numb.
“Don’t struggle, boy,” the figure commanded. “You’ll want to see this!”
Dan was about to give a rude remark but he bit back the words when he saw what the man was pointing to. Two guards in dark uniforms stood holding the arms of a girl in torn clothing. Dan knew the girl -- it was Alice!
“Let her go!” Dan called out. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“What are you doing here?” Alice asked him incredulously.
“You already know each other.” The guard gragging Dan smiled as he spoke. “How nice.”
“We found her on ground level. She was trying to get to the wreckage,” the guard on her left said.
“Were you traveling there to see the boy?” The guard’s voice demanded an answer to the question.
“I didn’t know Dan was there but I guess I should have,” Alice answered with a start.
“Do you know what the boy is working on? Did you help in his work?” Guards demanded.
“Don’t tell them anything!” Dan yelled out.
“Silence him. I want him to see; not talk.” The shadowy guard who had escorted Dan into the room was clearly the leader. He gave orders that were obeyed readilly enough. Dan was gagged and his arms were held.
One of the guards barlked a question to Alice. “Did you know that Dan planned on going down the tree to test his invention?”
“Yes... Well, I knew that he was planning to test his invention but I did not know he was going down today.”
“What can you tell me about his invention?”
Dan grunted and even began to fight the men holding him. It was clear that Dan had a thing or two to say about this question.
“Why don’t you just ask Dan to show you his invention? You can see how it works yourself,” Alice sugested.
“We’ve already seen it in action. His weapon kills shadoween. It is amazing!” Three soldiers told Alice excitedly.
“Then you already know more than I do. I never saw the invention in use.”
The commanding guard’s face was reddened and his eyes showed little more than anger. “Clearly the girl will not be of any use. Take her to her parent’s home and keep her there under house arrest. We may need to get to her quickly.”
Guards came to move around her quickly. Dan jerked in his captor’s arms, hoping against hope that he could do something to help her. He was more than shocked when the guards bundled him off after her. Dan somehow managed to wiggle away from the guards, grab Alice’s hand and ran off into the distance.
“I have to go home,” Alice told Dan once they stopped for a second to catch their breath. Dan nodded and began to walk along the bridges towards her village.