Then she and Vaness were left alone, while Lev and Zander began a hushed conversation in the hall. Caden was nowhere to be seen.
I will leave you like this. It will kill you eventually, will it not? I have heard tales of a Hell-Bard’s doom. Like cleaving, but slow—and with your mind working the entire time. You have awareness, yet no control.Please, Lev begged. Please don’t do this to him.
Caden moaned. His fists balled at his sides, and though iron kept his wrists locked down, he hammered. And hammered.This was only the beginning, though, for as Vaness knelt beside the Hell-Bard, waves shimmering outward, black began to crawl across Caden’s face.At first Safi thought she hallucinated it, what with all the shadows around them. Then when Caden’s lips split with another groan, and black furled out from between his teeth, she knew it was all too real.
It was like the smoke from Admiral Kahina’s pipe. Except … this was magic. This was wrong. It set Safi’s skin, her witchery to shuddering. Her gut rebelled too, for this was torture. Plain and simple. Whatever that noose did, without it, the Hell-Bard was in agony.Stop. Zander’s voice drummed out, echoing down the cells, cells that had gone utterly silent. Every slave, every sailor, every man, every woman ogled the Hell-Bard commander.
Through it all, Vaness looked thoroughly unfazed. We sail to Azmir, Commander. I want your word that as soon as we are on a ship, you will take me there.
Caden said something, but it was garbled. Lost to the splashing of his fists. To the writhing of his feet against the iron. Whatever he said, though, it sang with frantic truth.You said that last week! he squealed. And now the funeral is in six days! How will we provide food for the city?
Additionally, piped up Vizer Quihar, the more people we allow in, the more likely we are to let enemies into our midst. Until we know who killed the prince, we must close the Sentries and keep newcomers out.This earned a chorus of agreements from around the table. Only one man stayed silent: the barrel-chested, black-skinned Vizer Sotar. He was also the only man with a fully operational brain in this entire room.
He flung Vivia a sympathetic wince now, and she found it … well, more welcome than she cared to admit. He was so much like his daughter Stacia, who served as Vivia’s first mate. And were Stix here right now—were this Vivia’s ship and Vivia’s crew—Stix would lash out at these weak-willed vizers instantly. Mercilessly. She had the temper that Nubrevnan men respected most.But Stix was inspecting the city’s watchtowers today, like a good first mate, while Vivia was trapped inside, watching slimy Serrit Linday quieting the vizers with a wave.