Waking Up

Vanessa might have been unconscious for many days and weeks. She had no sense of time. When she finally returned from oblivion she was aware of only the pain on the side of her head and that she was lying down on a soft, richly carpeted floor. For a long moment she did not know quite where she was or what was going on, and then a familiar face swam into her bleary vision. Her dark-lashed eyes fluttered, opened and shut, then opened fully to see Barnaby crouched over her and untying her bonds. At this point it came flooding back to her what all had happened up to the moment at which the butler had knocked her out cold.

"He took me unawares," Vanessa said, wincing as she felt the swelling on her temple where she had been struck.

The rest of the room came into focus and she saw the mighty forms of Magnus and Trowfaz, each holding bloodied blades and keeping a close watch on the butler, who was now their prisoner. She accepted Barnaby's hand as he helped her to her feet and rose with as much dignity as her splitting headache would allow. She had to cling to his arm for a moment to steady herself.

"We need to question this rodent and find out if the Constable is still alive." Vanessa angrily glared at the cowering butler. "But we don't have much time, do we? Perhaps we should take him back with us to the Elfleda."

At thought of their vessel, she suddenly remembered something and quickly staggered to the window, yanking aside the curtains to reveal a spectacular view of the dimly lit ocean and a great ship that was anchored off the shore of a rocky beach, deliberately positioned so it was out of sight of the town and adjacent bay. The sinister ship was larger than the Elfleda, boasting an additional whole deck and what appeared to be ballista weapons mounted on its forecastle.

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