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Rosaliy never resurfaced, not that Drake could have picked her out through the haze on the water. With a landing like that, there existed no possibility of her being conscious. Broken bones were fixable. Breathing underwater was a bigger problem.

Drake ignored a rising wave of panic and the sneaking suspicion this was his punishment for seeing Rosaliy alive for the briefest of instants. Instead, he embraced a cold sense of urgency, yanking at his boots. Cliff diving was a terrible idea, but he had done it before and lived to question the wisdom of his decisions. Funny how many truthful sentences he could state just like that. Blank was a terrible idea, but he had survived it.

"Stop," cautioned Esmona, holding out a hand. Her eyes were fixated down below.

"You're not going to talk me out of—"

"Zzzt," she shushed him, snapping a hand in a dismissive gesture.

Drake could see thick fog rolling in below him. This was not a normal haze. That meant exactly one thing: Trouble.

"The Flifary," he choked out, finally getting one stubborn boot off his foot. He needed to be down there.

"What?" Esmona exclaimed. "The Flifa— Are you really going to jump?"

That was the plan.

"Wait!" yelled a voice. A girl dangled from a hole in the ceiling next to what appeared to be a chandelier turned into a ladder. She dropped, landing with a light thud in the middle of the weather-wrecked room across the chasm.

"What are you?" Esmona spluttered, knife at the ready. "Are you the princess? I can't kill you. Who was that?" She waved at the water below. "She looks dead already, not that I'm going down to check. It would really improve my mood to be killing somebody right now."

"I'm going with you," the girl told Drake, flinging off her shoes. "I have, umm..." She side-eyed Esmona. "Something useful."

"I knew you were up to no good," Esmona complained. "Princesses sneaking about, Malum magic, Flifary doing who knows what..."

Drake needed to get to Rosaliy now, but if the Flifary saw him, he would reveal Rosaliy's location. Of course, if he didn't get to her quickly, Rosaliy would drown.

"I need a distraction, Es," he ordered. Not that ordering Esmona around did any good, but perhaps she would be caught off guard and take him seriously.

"I need a night off, a tub of rum, and a tray of canapes," she complained, rolling her eyes. "Boys," she hollered. The two pirates had finally worked their way around to Drake's location, but they were dumbfounded over what to do in the midst of the chaos. "Go fire some cannons at something."

An explosion rumbled the castle. Distant screams implied a shot had landed too close to the castle for comfort. The furry lump down the back of his shirt trembled.

"Ah, Alonzo anticipated me," said Esmona.

"They're leaving," said the girl, peering down at the shoreline Drake could not see. "Or at least moving. I'm going."

Drake would have argued, but arguing safety threw his own choices into question, and the girl had already dived over the edge anyway. Matias broke into the room just in time to see her leap. He screamed an incoherent garble of the girl's name and some version of "no" and "stop" all at once.

"Oh, good," Esmona lit up when Cliff followed Matias in. "At least I get to hurt somebody."

"Touch him, and I snap you in half," Drake threatened, finally yanking off his last boot.

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