It took three weeks to sail between the islands, though rough weather could turn it into a more interesting five. Not one among the crew had told him what sort of delay would be caused by a tussle with pirates.
They’d not prepared him well for that possibility.
No one had mentioned raiders. Certainly no one had mentioned sword- or fistfights or being captured and having his ankles and wrists tied together, sitting quietly on the deck under threat of being skewered like a pig while three burly men in ratty clothes watched him.
None of it sat well with Aidan.
He wasn’t sure if he was more annoyed with the tight-lipped traders quaking beside him or the pirates.
He ought to have just gone below and hid. He wasn’t sure why he’d jumped to engage the pirates.
They had his knife and his sword now. They’d been thrown into a pile with the weapons wrested from or surrendered by the crew and a very few that belonged to felled pirates.
At least, he thought, Darryn wasn’t here. Until recently, he’d have had to look after Darryn besides, but now it was only Aidan’s own hide that needed saving.
And that made things easier.
To the man next to him, he grumbled, “You didn’t tell me there were pirates.”
“We didn’t know,” the sweating sailor pled. “I haven’t heard of any in the area before now.”
“Just our luck. Any thought what happens to us?”
“I don’t know these—”
“Hey!” one of the guards shouted, and the tip of a sword tickled the sailor’s throat. “I said no talking.”
“I was asking him,” Aidan said boldly, “what he thinks you’ll do to us.”
“That’s up to the captain.”
“Do you have a guess?” Aidan pressed.
“Pray to your gods, boy,” the pirate growled by way of answer. He lowered the sword and made to turn away, but was stopped by Aidan.
“Suppose,” Aidan said, “that I pray to the captain instead.”
“Captain don’t like beggars.”
“Maybe not, but maybe you could use an extra deckhand? Or a cabin boy?”
The pirate laughed. “Boy, you don’t want to be no pirate’s cabin boy.”
“What’re you doing?” the sailor beside him hissed.
“I need passage away. I don’t particularly care where. And you lot seem unlikely to be able to take me much farther. So what do you think,” Aidan asked the pirate, “since they can’t take me, can you?”