The Lost Prince: Part IV – The Good Captain’s Men

The Lost Prince: Part IV – The Good Captain’s Men

Over the following three days, I found myself wishing with greater and greater passion that I’d simply let the marauding pirates toss me overboard. Once my bargain had been struck with Dromlinson and Locksley, my companions’ and I were ushered deep below Eveline’s deck. We were brought to a long, dark corridor bloated with slate grey bars. Behind these bars, I caught a glimpse of several threadbare, yellow blankets and a couple of rusty bowls. It took me another glance to realise that these were cages. We had reached the brig.

“Here we are,” smiled Dromlinson, brushing me inside, “I do apologise for this. There just isn’t any space for you in the Officer’s quarters and, well, I don’t think it would be wise to let you sleep amongst the rest of the crew. Some of them are a bit confused as to why you’re still alive. They aren’t civilised men, men of reason, like you and I. Trust me, this is the safest place for you, right now. I’ll do what I can to make things more comfortable, once everything’s settled. I once worked as the Master of Blackheart Prison, on behalf on my Uncle, the Great Governor of Lariptus so, trust me, I know how to ensure that all your needs are met.”

Lazrilus slithered into the cage behind me, baring his teeth at the impenetrable bars that, for the foreseeable future, would be his place of rest. I must confess I pitied him. It hadn’t been that long ago that he’d been cooped up below Regan’s House, sealed within yet another jail – albeit a more comfortable one than this. Una shuffled towards the cage, only to be seized by Locksley. As soon as Locksley pounced, Dromlinson wheeled around, swearing. Dromlinson barked several words at Locksley, who shrank back, releasing Una and licking his gums in embarrassed silence. Lockley stomped away, into the darkness, presumably seeking to release his frustrations above deck. Dromlinson closed the door of the cage, locked it and sighed.

“I do apologise for him,” said Dromlinson, “but you can trust me. I’ll keep the beast under control. In the name of the Governor, I’ll escort you to Kazore, unharmed.” Dromlinson pressed his round face against the narrow bars, his tiny, cold eyes blazing out from the confines of his podgy sockets. Dromlinson’s mouth twitched.

“As long as you do what I say,” whispered Dromlinson, “everything will be fine.”

And then he too, turned on his heel and followed to the captain into the shadows.

It was a long time before any of us could muster up the courage to speak out loud. It was Una that eventually broke the silence.

“If that ogre comes anywhere near me,” she hissed, “I want you to put those teeth to good use, Lazrilus, and tear out his damned throat.”

“I wouldn’t call him that,” muttered Lazrilus, “it’s an insult to ogres,” the Necromancer’s eyes slid over to me. He offered me a weak smile.

“I must admit,” he said, “as insufferable as it was to be described as your servant, that was a crafty trick, getting those monsters to agree to ferry us to Kazore.”

“I wouldn’t waste your breath with flattery,” I said, “for now, our fates rest with Dromlinson. As soon a Locksley realises that he’s the captain and doesn’t have to take the advice of his lackeys, the beast might change his mind and hurl us overboard.”

“As I said,” interjected Una, “I’d prefer that to another kiss from that vile creature. Did you see his teeth?” Una wrinkled her nose, “they were revolting!”

“Revolting or not,” I said, “for now, we’re just going to have to put up with Locksley and Dromlinson,” I clenched one hand into a fist and raised it, so that it was level with my eyes, “until we get to Kazore. Then it’ll be down to us to escape, before they Lariptians realise they’ve been deceived.”

As one day bled into the other, the three of us tried our best to come up with a plan of escape. It was difficult, holding hushed, terrified conversations, squashed as we were by the darkness of our cage. Once a day, a burly Lariptian would slide a bowl of warm water and a dirty plate of meagre scraps through the bars, smirking as we had to crouch over our supplies, taking it in turns to nibble at a strip of hard bread or a sip from the bowl. On the second day, Una and I were approached by Dromlinson and another sailor and escorted above deck, to what Dromlinson referred to as the Navigation Centre. Lazrilus clung as we were taken away, reaching out to Una with his eyes. The poor man had grown to care deeply for the young priestess. I understood his fears. If Locksley decided that he would prefer Una over salvation from Kazore, I knew in my heart that there was little I could do to stop him. Fortunately, the captain’s perversity had been reined in by Dromlinson. Even from the brief conversations we’d had with him, Dromlinson’s insufferable boasting had revealed a long and varied career amongst the upper echelons of Lariptian society: he had been the First Speaker of a city called West Ringling and, as he often liked to repeat, was the nephew to the current Lariptian Governor. Therefore, whilst Locksley was the official captain of Eveline, it became clear to us that Dromlinson was the one who wielded the true power aboard the ship.

Upon our arrival at the Navigation Centre, Dromlinson lead the two of us over to a giant oval table, over which had been spread a giant map of The Southern Isles. Locksley bared his gums at us and jabbed his hairy fingers at the map, barking garbled instructions. Dromlinson was at Una’s shoulder in an instant, whispering translations loud enough for us both to hear. Locksley wanted to know where we were supposed to dock Eveline. Una gave me a nervous look, before shuffling over to the map. Locksley grinned and took two, lecherous steps towards her, only to retreat from Dromlinson’s cold stare. I bit my lip. I had no idea what Una intended to tell them. I knew nothing about the internal politics of Kazore. The easiest route for the Lariptians might not have been the safest place for an exiled Priestess like Una.

Una’s eyes resembled a pair of frantic mice as she surveyed the map. Dromlinson’s mouth twitched and he dabbed at his eyes with irritation. After a while, the Lariptian spoke up:

“We are in a hurry, my dear. So, please: what is the nearest Kazorean port?”

Una nodded once and pointed at a small island, to the north of Kazore.

“There’s a colony of Merfolk in Olokai. From there, it’s only a short journey to Unaloth, the joint-capital of the People of the Water and the Sun. They would be happy to receive us-”

“Unaloth!?” cried Dromlinson, his voice cracking with hysteria, “that’s leagues away. Leagues! Why don’t we just go here?” To the western coast, that’s far closer…”

Una flinched. I understood what that flinch meant. Most likely, it had been from the western coast that Una had been launched on her sinking barge.

“It’s possible,” said Una, “but if you want… to be truly rewarded… my own people, the People of the Water, would be far more grateful-”

“We’re low on supplies as it is,” muttered Dromlinson, dabbing at his lips, “no, the western coast is a far better choice. If we run out of supplies before we reach Kazore… well,” Dromlinson’s fat lips stretched themselves into a grotesque smile, “I don’t think I can be responsible for how the good captain and his men might react to that. Now, tell me, priestess. Is it possible for us to dock The Tears of Eveline on the western coast?”

Una shuddered. I felt bile rising in the back of my throat and did my best to hold it back. I found myself swearing an oath to Ahasathoth that, if I was ever given the opportunity to kill Dromlinson, I would take it.

“Yes,” said Una, “it’s possible. There’s a port, they call it ‘The Spiral’. You’ll be looked after there.”

“Wonderful,” Dromlinson beamed, nodding to a trio of sailors. Una and I were taken back to our cage. Lazrilus clasped Una’s hands once the door was slammed shut.

“What happened?” he asked, “you’re shivering. Did Locksley hurt you?”

“No,” said Una, “no more than he already has. Those eyes of his… they’re foul enough to wound any woman. No, the captain’s pet wanted directions. He wanted to know what the closest port to us was.”

“We don’t have long,” I muttered, “as soon as we reach ‘The Spiral’, they’ll know the truth. Una will probably be executed, and who knows what they’ll do to us-”

“Alright, that’s enough!” spat Lazrilus, “can’t you see she’s already upset-”

“I don’t need you to coddle me, Vomoran!” growled Una, giving Lazrilus a weak shove. As the Necromancer stumbled back, his jacket slipped down his shoulder, and I caught a glimpse of something red.

“Hold on,” I said, “what’s that on your neck?”

Lazrilus’s hand leapt up, covering the mark with his fingers.

“It’s nothing,” spat Lazrilus. I persisted and pushed his hand aside. I blanched when I saw what the Vomoran had been hiding. It was the tattoo that I had caught a glimpse of, many nights ago, when Lazrilus had still been Midon’s prisoner. Only, someone had obviously taken great pains to obscure as much of the claw and eye as possible using the most painful methods imaginable. The gnarled hand in particular had been marred by three or four long scars, that had perhaps been raked through the Vomoran’s flesh by either fingernail or blade. The eye itself was blackened and sore. As if someone had pressed a naked flame against the Vomoran’s skin. Lazrilus swatted my hand away, and I recoiled in disgust.

“What-who did this to you?” I cried, “Locksley? Or one of his men?”

“No,” whispered Una. She splayed her fingers, turning her palm upwards towards the ceiling. A tiny flame burst out of her palm and for a moment hovered there, dancing and wavering like a serpentine star, before Una clicked her fingers and snuffed out the fire. Una looked at Lazrilus, on the verge of tears, “I did.”

My mouth flopped. I didn’t know what to say.

“Why?” I spluttered. Lazrilus snarled and yanked his jacket back over his shoulder, covering up the patchwork of scars and burns.

“Because I asked her to,” he spat, “is that alright with you? Now, why don’t we focus on something more important: our escape? First things first, how do we get out of this cage? As long as Locksley can keep us locked up like animals, we’re at his mercy.”

About The Author

Rhys Clark

I am an English and Theatre Studies student at the University of Warwick. I particularly enjoy dystopian literature and political satire. My influences as a writer are George Orwell, Christopher Hitchens, Kurt Vonnegut and Harold Pinter.

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