CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: ARK (5/5)

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The improvised ride to the brig was less than smooth. Gormyn stomped more than walked, forcing Sol to adjust his grip between every step to keep from falling off.

He managed to cling on, however—and more importantly, Gormyn didn't notice he was there.

Sol's heart was pounding when at last they reached the brig deck and approached the gated door.

"There you are," said a familiar voice from the shadows. Fheric stepped forward. "I've been waiting more than half-an-hour for you!"

"I was sleeping," said Gormyn. "It's supposed to be Meron's turn to guard."

"Meron's sick."

"So I heard. You going to let me in or not?"

Fheric took the big black key attached to his belt and opened the door. Sol held his breath as Gormyn stepped through... and then he was inside.

"Try not to fall asleep," said Fheric, handing the black key and its chain over to Gormyn.

"Try not to slip on the stairs and break your neck," said Gormyn in reply.

Fheric coughed up a weak laugh and exited through the gated door, leaving it to Gormyn to lock it behind him. Gormyn waited until Fheric was up the stairs and out of sight before turning and strolling into the shadows.

Now that he had reached the brig, Sol was sorely tempted to let go of Gormyn's boot and walk behind him, but he decided to hang on a little longer and wait for the right moment.

The further they ventured, the more Sol's eyes adjusted to the darkness and he began to make out a series of enormous doors running the length of a corridor. There were ten in total, with five on either side. Unlike the door in Ramgor's cabin, however, there was no gap to squeeze beneath them nor any kind of handle to turn. There were keyholes, but they were twenty-feet up in the air and looked much too small for him to fit through, anyway.

Gormyn slowed as he came to a lone chair facing the gated door. He slumped into it with a tired sigh. When he was finally still, Sol peeled his fingers from his boot and tried to step away as quietly as he could, but an almighty bang from behind one of the great doors startled him and he tripped over his own feet.

"Quiet!" yelled Gormyn.

The door banged again.

Gormyn jumped to his feet and pounded on the door with such force that the floor shook. "If you don't stop that, I'll break your legs!" He waited, but whatever was beyond the door stayed quiet after that. "And that goes for everyone else in here! I want quiet for the rest of the night, or so help me, I'll cripple every single one of you!"

Not a sound was made, and Gormyn returned to his seat.

For a long time, Sol was too scared to move. He was focused on the short length of chain which had spilled over the side of Gormyn's chair, on the end of which he knew was the black key. Looking around from his low vantage point, he saw plenty of locked doors, but no other keys.

Perhaps the black key also opened the cells?

In order find find out, however, he somehow had to steal it from Gormyn's belt without being noticed, then miraculously get himself high enough so that he could slot it into one of the doors—which presented yet another problem: even if he managed to do all of that without being noticed, he still had no idea which door Goone was behind. He supposed he could try looking through the keyholes, but then he was back to figuring out his impossible task.

His only hope was that Gormyn might fall asleep, but after many agonising minutes of waiting, the snores he longed for seemed like they would never come. Gormyn muttered to himself, keeping himself company with hateful musings about people who had wronged him that he wished to kill, or how the crew's dinner had been little better than slop while everyone knew the captain held his own private feasts.

As these rambling thoughts went on and on, Sol's hope dwindled. He had got himself this far, but the final few hurdles were just too great to overcome. Ramgor could awaken at any moment and discover he was missing, and surely the first place he would go looking for him was in the brig.

But just as Sol was resigning himself to failure, something happened which made him forget his current predicament and terrified him to his core.

A breeze stroked his face, light at first but it quickly grew stronger. He faced into it and found himself gazing at the steps beyond the gated door. The air sighed as it circled about him.

"Sssolomon..."

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That's all for this week, hope you enjoyed it!

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