Chapter 11

Sigmund awoke to the powerful peals of thunder overhead. Rain beat heavy and hard against his face, biting at his eyes and running from his hair down his brow. Lightning frequently illuminated the boat that he was now on- the barbarian boat. His hands and feet were bound by rough cords, which in turn were tied to large metal rings on the deck. The pirates were going to and fro, shouting out over the furious wind in a coarse tongue that the king didn’t understand.

Sigmund didn’t know whether it was better that his captors thought him unconscious or alert, but it didn’t matter for long, as one of the rogues- with a particularly savage-looking sword- noticed that the king was awake and shouted out some phrase in a harsh tone. The king assumed that the man had called for others to come because there were soon four then five then more of the large men gathered around the captive king.

“No smart man sails the night river,” one of the shorter men stood forward, his accent was thick- from the East or so the king thought.

“I was a passenger, a stranger to these lands and these waters,” Sigmund tried to pull against his bonds in order to better face the speaker.
“Then a foolish passenger you are for choosing such careless and inexperienced guides.”

“And I would quite agree with that,” the king shouted over an intensifying wind. “Given the choice, I would neither travel with, nor like to be acquainted with either of these men. They have brought me no end of trouble and trials, and I don’t doubt that you’ll be such as to offer me the same.”

“You don’t speak like the usual peasants that we ‘deal’ with. What’s your position- or what was it, rather.”

Thinking it unwise to reveal his royal place, Sigmund paused for a moment to develop an adequate lie.

The men began to talk amongst themselves as the speaker apparently translated the king’s response- pointing and shouting like a true thespian.

“I am a traveler. Once a prisoner in the courts of a conquered kingdom, and now a prisoner in the company of pirates.”

“Well ours are no courts, that be certain. But you’ll find that we can be quite diplomatic ourselves.”

Unsure of the pirate’s intended meaning and sufficiently tired from fighting against his bonds and the rain, the king let himself fall back to the deck and let the rain pound at his face. He was certainly not happy now.

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