CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: ARK (2/5)

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The torches on the walls shuddered as Captain Ramgor descended into the belly of his ship, his captives swinging helplessly in the net in his hand.

"Where are you taking us?" asked Anyel.

"To the brig," said Ramgor.

"The brig?! You're locking us up?! But... you can't!"

"Why not?"

"My father is King Phedeus! Once he finds out that you have—"

"Phedeus has no power in these waters. On this ship, I am King—and you are an outlaw. Outlaws belong in the brig."

"She's not an outlaw," Sol said. "and neither am I. All I'm trying to do is survive."

Ramgor snorted. "Don't worry little human; I'm not putting you in a cell. While you're on my ship, you stay with me."

If that was supposed to comfort Sol, it did the exact opposite. Apart from the fact that he found Ramgor quite terrifying, Sol also needed to get to Goone—and Goone would be in the brig. Whether he liked it or not, that was where he needed to go.

They reached the bottom of the steps and entered into a long and wide room, the length of which was filled with colossal hammocks. Most of them were empty, though a handful of sailors lay asleep, swinging gently and snoring loudly. One of them spotted Sol and Anyel as they passed and sat up in bed to look at them.

"What are you looking at?" said Anyel.

The sailor grinned a toothless grin. "Breakfast."

Ramgor laughed.

Sol shuddered.

The captain carried them to a hatch in the floor where another set of steps led to the deck below. They descended into another huge room, this one filled with bench tables and the ghostly smell of a feast recently devoured. More men lay asleep on the tables than did in the hammocks, slumped over their goblets and drooling over their arms. Sol was reminded of The Tub back home.

Another hatch took them lower still into a room filled with crates and barrels, though there were no men at all there, asleep or otherwise.

Finally, they descended through one more hatch into what Sol was sure was the lowest deck. It was very dark. A single torch flickered from the other side of a gated door with metal bars as thick as Sol's legs. Ramgor approached.

"Fheric," said Ramgor. "Where are you?"

From the shadows beyond the door, the tall shape of a man emerged. He was bigger than Ramgor but only in height, for he was very lanky.

"Captain," said Fheric. "What can I do for—" He stopped himself when he saw Sol and Anyel.

"I have another prisoner for you," said Ramgor. He pulled open the top of the net and reached inside, grabbing one of Anyel's arms.

"NO! GET OFF ME!" screamed Anyel. "LET GO!" Her tail thrashed and slapped uselessly at his hand as he pulled her out.

"What about the other one?" said Fheric, looking at Sol.

"He stays with me," said Ramgor.

Sol watched closely as Fheric unlocked the gated door with a big black key attached by a chain to his belt.

Ramgor handed Anyel over to him. "Make sure she has a nice bucket to splash about in."

"A bucket!" shrieked Anyel. "You're a savage! You're all savages! LET GO OF ME!"

Fheric took her. "If you don't stop your shouting, I'll fill your bucket with spit!" He spat a puddle onto the floor to prove his point. Anyel went very quiet after that. "There's a good Mermaid." He locked the door and carried Anyel into the darkness beyond until Sol could no longer see them.

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