“Well then, to those no longer with us. To Pimm. To Waylon, to Jenna.”
“Aye. To Nala.”— Overheard in Mistport harbour, circa 400 4E
The door opened swiftly, rousing Feral and the crew from their slumber. The Suros guards filed in, began unlocking the cells and manhandling the prisoners to their feet, and out on to deck.
“What’s happening?” hissed Rathkran.
“Where are they taking us?” asked Waylon.
“We’ve arrived,” muttered Petarix.
Rathkran and Waylon fell silent.
The crew blinked in the sunlight of the winter’s morning, shimmering and reflecting off the prismatic shingles of Karan Taul’s buildings. The guards forced them roughly to their knees, facing the gangplank down into the harbour. Ahead of them, a procession of knights approached, each clad in glassmail of the ten Ka’ma clans.
The Ten Claws filed onto the deck and spread out, revealing the Scalelord himself, his long cape trailing behind him. He too was clad in glassmail, a deep black that matched his scales, marked with gold trim, a great broadsword on his hip, and a heavy crown on his brow. He walked forward and scanned the crew before him, one eye probing and searching, the other a milky white.
“You serve the traitor known as Narinn Markex.”
The crew looked at each other.
“The traitor known as who now?” asked Feral. He furrowed his brow in mock confusion.
“Never heard of him.” said Petarix.
“I think there’s been some confusion,” added Trynnicus, trying not to smile.
Valasar smirked mirthlessly, and nodded. He pointed at Waylon. “Kill that one to begin with.”
The crew’s eyes went wide, none wider than Waylon’s, and their smiles faded instantly. The green knight behind Valasar strode forward, drew a dagger from his belt with a glassy ring, and knelt down before Waylon. He reached one mailed hand forward, wrapping his fingers in the man’s hair.
There was a sharp sound of blade against flesh, a spray, and a thud as Feral found himself staring into the chef’s lifeless eyes from their new position on the deck in front of him.
Valasar winced. “Such an awful sound, that,” he said. “…Kill her too.”
Garn stood from his crouched position, taking a pace back from the pool of blood spilling out steadily onto the deck from Waylon’s body.
The crew watched in shock as he crossed over to Jenna and knelt to look her in her tearful eyes.
“No, please! Ple–”
A flock of birds alighted from the harbourmaster’s office as Garn performed another swift cut.
Valasar inhaled deeply, then exhaled. “I assure you that contrary to what your…captain has clearly led you to believe, I am not to be toyed with. You now live at my pleasure. Take those two as…an example. If you do not wish their fate, you will give me the information I desire.”
The crew were silent, still in shock. The only sound on deck was a low gurgling.
“You’ll get nothing from us,” whispered Nala.
Valasar’s head darted round, and he crossed to stand in front of the val, her head low. He knelt down, placed two fingers under her chin, and raised her eyeline to meet his. Her white scales were spotted with red spray, and her eyes fierce.
“What was that?”
Nala set her jaw, looked the Scalelord directly in his eye. “You will get nothing from us.”
“You are a monster,” she said quietly, mustering what saliva she could.
“Nala…” Feral began, his voice catching.
“You are not fit to rule Scale.” She spat forward, the thin water landing on the glass crown atop Valasar’s head. “You are not fit to rule Scale, and you are scared of the captain because you know that.”
“You have taken so much from us. So much from me.“
Valasar narrowed his eyes.
“My son died for you!” Nala began sobbing, her voice quivering with rage. “He was everything I had in this world, and you took him from me! You will get nothing from me, you will get nothing from us, and when you lose, I will…I…I…” she trailed off, her chest heaving with sobs.
Valasar stood to his feet slowly, then turned and walked towards the gangplank.
“Mount her as well.”