“Is that why you’ve been denying me food and water?” I rasped.

“Oh”—Torres chuckled—“but there is much, much more to come. We have the little matter of The Observatory’s location to extract. We have the little matter of what you did to Hornigold. Come, let us show you what lies in store. Guards.”

Two men arrived, the same pair of Templar stooges who’d escorted me to the court-room. Torres and Rogers left as I was manacled and leg-irons were fitted to me. Then, with my boots dragging on the flags, they hauled me out of the cell and along the passageway, out into the prison courtyard, where I blinked in the blinding sun, breathed fresh air for the first time in weeks, then, to my surprise, out of the main prison-gates.

“Where are you taking me?” I gasped. The light of the sun was too blinding. I couldn’t open my eyes. It felt as though they were glued together.

There was no reply. I could hear the sounds of Kingston. Daily life carrying on as normal around me.

“How much are they paying you?” I tried to say. “Whatever it is, let me go, and I’ll double it.”

They came to a halt.

“Good man, good man,” I mumbled. “I can make you rich. Just get me . . .”

A fist smashed into my face, splitting my lip, breaking something in my nose that began to gush blood. I coughed and groaned. As my head lolled back, a face came close to mine.

“Shut. Up.”

I blinked, trying to focus on him, trying to remember his face.

“I’ll get you for that,” I murmured. Blood or saliva ran from my mouth. “You mark my words, mate.”

“Shut up, or next time it’ll be the point of my sword.”

I chuckled. “You’re full of shit, mate. Your master wants me alive. Kill me and you’ll be taking my place in that cell. Or worse.”

Through a veil of pain, blood and piercing sunlight, I saw his expression darken. “We’ll see about that,” he snarled. “We’ll see about that.”

The journey continued, me spitting blood, trying to clear my head and mostly failing until we came to what looked like the foot of a ladder. I heard the murmured voices of Torres and Rogers, then a squeaking sound coming from just overhead, and when I raised my chin and cast my eyes upwards, what I saw was a gibbet. One of the stooges had climbed the ladder and unlocked it, and the door opened with a complaint of rusty metal. I felt the sun beat down upon me. I could die in there. In the sun.

I tried to say something, to explain that I was parched and could die in the sun and if I did that—if I died—then they’d never find out where The Observatory was. Only Black Bart would know, and what a terrifying thought that was—Black Bart in charge of all that power.

He’s doing that right now, isn’t he? That’s how he got to be so successful.

But I never got the chance to say it because they’d locked me in the gibbet to let the sun do its work. Let it slowly cook me alive.

FIFTY-NINE

At sundown my two friends came to fetch me and take me back to my cell. My reward for surviving was water, a bowl of it on my cell floor, just enough to dab on my lips, keep me alive, to use on the blisters and pustules brought up by the sun.

Rogers and Torres came. “Where is it? Where is The Observatory?” they demanded.

With cracked, desiccated lips I smiled at them but said nothing.

He’s robbing you blind, isn’t he? Roberts, I mean. He’s destroying all your plans.

“You want to go back there tomorrow?”

“Sure,” I whispered. “Sure. I could do with the fresh air.”

It wasn’t every day. Some days I stayed in my cell. Some days they only hung me for a few hours.

“Where is it? Where is The Observatory?”

Some days they left me until well after nightfall. But it wasn’t so bad when the sun went in. I was still crumpled into the gibbet like a man stuck in a privy, every muscle and bone shrieking in agony; I was still dying of thirst and hunger, my sunburnt flesh flaming. But still, it wasn’t so bad. At least the sun had gone in.

“Where is it? Where is The Observatory?”

Every day I’m up there he’s a bigger pain in the arse, isn’t he? Every day wasted is Black Bart’s triumph over the Templars. There’s that, at least.

“You want to go back there tomorrow?”

“Sure.”

I wasn’t sure I could take another day. In a strange way I was trusting them not to kill me. I was trusting in my resolve being greater than theirs. I was trusting in my own inner strength.

But for another day I hung there, crouched and crumpled in the gibbet. Night fell again, and I heard the guards taunting me, and I heard them gloating about Calico Jack, and how Charles Vane had been arrested.

Charles Vane, I thought. Charles Vane . . . I remember him. He tried to kill me. Or did I try to kill him?

Then the sounds of a short, pitched battle, bodies falling, muffled groans. And then a voice.

“Good morning, Captain Kenway. I have a gift for you.”

Very, very slowly, I opened my eyes. On the ground below me, painted grey in the dead light of the day, were two bodies. My friends, the Templar stooges. Both had slashed throats. A pair of crimson smiles adorned their necks.

Crouching next to them, rifling through their tunics for the gibbet keys, was the Assassin Ah Tabai.

I assumed I’d never see him again. After all, the Assassin Ah Tabai was not the greatest supporter of Edward Kenway. He probably would just as soon have slit my throat as rescue me from jail.

Fortunately for me, he chose to rescue me from jail.

But—“Do not mistake my purpose here,” he said, climbing the ladder, finding the right key for the lock and being good enough to catch me when I almost fell forward from the gibbet. He had a bulging leather flask and held the teat to my lips. As I gulped I felt tears of relief and gratitude pouring down my cheeks.

“I have come for Anne and Mary,” he was saying as he helped me down the ladder. “You owe me nothing for this. But if you would lend me your aid, I can promise you safe passage from this place.”

I had collapsed to the ground, where Ah Tabai allowed me to gather myself, handing me the leather flask once again.

“I’ll need weapons,” I said after some minutes.

He smiled and handed me a hidden blade. It was no small thing for an Assassin to hand an interloper a blade, and as I crouched on the ground and strapped it on I realized I was being honoured in some way. The thought gave me strength.

Source: www.StudyNovels.com
Loading...