“You’re a spy,” Revis asked incredulously.
“How did you guess,” Steph returned. “Did me telling you that give it away?”
“Sarcastic comments are a good way to get a dagger shoved up your….”
“What my knight meant to say,” Matticus interjected, “is that you’ll understand if we don’t trust you right away. Too much is at stake for us to just take your word for it.”
She gave Revis a quick dirty look before turning to Matticus. “And how am I supposed to earn your trust?”
“First, you have to answer all of our questions.”
“I have no problem answering your questions. Your knight can take his questions, turn them sideways, and shove them up his….”
“Revis,” Matticus interrupted again, “can you give us a minute?”
The First Knight pulled Matticus aside. He handed the Jester a vial. “Drink this.”
He did as he was told, but he gave Revis a weird look as he did so. “What was that?”
“A truth potion. Now, whenever someone tries to lie to you, you’ll hear the truth anyways.”
“Really,” Matticus asked, deep in thought. “What did you think of that mermaid girl who gave us the wrong directions?”
Revis said, “Uhhh, I don’t want to do this,” but what Matticus heard was, “She was hot.”
Hiding a smile, Matticus stated, “Ok, now I can ask her the questions.” Revis stepped away to keep watch, and Matticus returned to Steph to begin the interogation. “Sorry, Revis can come off a bit rough sometimes. They don’t teach charm in Knight school anymore.”
“That’s okay,” Steph replied, shrugging her shoulders.
Matticus smiled as he heard the truth, “He’s an idiot.” Then he began questioning her, “Do you know where we can find Jaded?”
That was all he heard, she’s was telling the truth.
“Why did you start spying on the vampires?”
“I noticed things changing around here and wanted to see what was going on. In the beginning there were just a couple vampires and they were throwing money around trying to buy their way into positions of power. The guards and the citizenry, for the most part, were happy to take the gold and silver. I got swept up in the ferver and decided it was better to hide in plain sight, see what they were really up to, and then figure out how best to either get away from them or bring them down.”
Again, she was telling the truth.
Matticus thought for a minute about what to ask next. There was so much more he and Revis needed to know, the lack of information was daunting. “What have you learned?” It was a simple enough question that would hopefully fill in a lot of the gaps in their knowledge.
“From what I’ve been able to gather, all of their time and effort have gone into moving people and equipment to Kuzco Groove, the island out in the middle of the Golden Sea. Although I’ve helped them arrange transport, they never did tell me why they needed it. Plus, none of the people have returned yet, so I haven’t been able to ask them. ”
“There’s something on that island that they need, but they can’t find it, which is why they need all of the equipment and workers.”
“Do you have any idea what they might be looking for?”
“All they said was that once they found ‘it’, the kingdom would be theirs for the taking. They never said anything about what ‘it’ might be.”
“Hmmm, we need to get out to that island.”
“I can get you two on the next ship they’re sending out there. It leaves tomorrow morning. That’s what the meeting tonight was supposed to be about: who was going to be sent to help the search effort.”
“Are you sure you don’t mind helping us?”
“I’d do anything to help the kingdom,” Steph said, but the potion added, “Plus, it’ll get your knight far away from me.”
Matticus was pleased to know the potion was stll working. “Won’t they be suspicious about the warehouse fire? Could that mess up us getting on the boat undetected?”
Steph thought about the two questions for a long time, and the Jester felt his mind start to wander again, as it was apt to do when there were lulls in conversation, eating, playing, adventuring. Before he could stray too far though, Steph brought him back to reality, “It should take them awhile to sift through the remnants of the fire to try and figure out if it was an accident or not. The vampires are very arragont and probably won’t believe it possible that anyone could have started the fire and trapped so many of them in the warehouse without detection. And, they certainly won’t want to delay their search, so would send the next ship out to the island anyway.” The potion added, “I think” and Matticus frowned. “I should be able to get you onto the ship and hidden. Once you make it to the island you’ll be on your own, though.” Again the potion added, “except for all the vampires already out there organizing the search efforts, of course,” and Matticus’ frown deepened.
Despite his uneasiness with the truth behind Steph’s words, he thanked her for her help and signaled to his knight that he could rejoin them. When Revis got back to their side, Matticus filled him in on the plan to go to Kuzco Groove. The three of them silently made their way to the ship. Steph wanted to get them onboard, and out of sight, before any of the other vampire helpers boarded. She got them situated in the back corner of the cargo hold.
“The trip should only take a day, maybe a day and a half. You two should be all right until then,” she informed them.
“Thanks again,” Matticus replied. “Also, again, I’m sorry for how my knight acted towards you.”
“That’s ok. I’ve dealt with worse,” she said, but the potion added, “At least he has a nice ass.”
Matticus watched her walk away, but only because needed a few seconds to keep himself from laughing at that last statement. Once he composed himself, he turned to his knight. “Sorry, we kept you out of it, but you should’ve been nicer to her.”
“That’s ok. I’ve dealt with worse,” he echoed. Matticus couldn’t stop the laughter when the potion put more words to his sentence too, “At least she has a nice ass.”
A few minutes later movement and voices from the deck above them were the duos warning to quiet down and tuck themselves completely into their hiding spot. The early footfalls and half heard murmurs turned into a torrent of creaks, groans, and shouted commands and the ship’s crew boarded along with the rest of the vampire helpers and the boat was made ready for the sea. The sails were raised and the slight rocking motion of the ship was strengthened as the vessel left the shallow waters of the harbor.
Revis and Matticus longed for a window, to catch a fresh breath of air, to watch the rise and fall of the waves to better steady their feet with the swaying ship, but their hiding place offered none of those comforts. They tried to find respite in sleep but their minds wouldn’t relax enough to allow it. They tried to speed the passage of time through meditation but neither were very good at it. In the end, they gave up and resigned themselves to the tumultuous nature of being blind in the belly of a boat.
After hours of the torture, when the commotion on deck was sure to cover his whispered voice, Matticus turned to Revis and said, “I hope what we find on the island is worth this.”