The barbarians left their miserable prisoner to lie in the pools of gathering rain, laughing amongst themselves about his condition. Only the one who spoke with Sigmund remained, watching the king in his subjection.
It was morning and Sigmund opened his eyes to the bright rays of a morning sun. At his first movement, he was reminded of his bonds as well as his inadequate sleeping conditions the night before. The sky was now clear of the evening rain and storm and wind, but the king was still not content.
With full light around him, the king was finally able to evaluate the barbarian ship. It seemed large for a river vessel, but then the king hadn’t seen many others to compare either. The craft was not entirely dissimilar to the one he had boarded with Donovan and the Merchant, with a much larger cabin at the stern and a much broader deck. The king himself was tied near the cabin, but far enough from its wooden walls to be exposed to the harsh sunlight.
“You’ve slept well, considering your quarters,” last night’s speaker moved into the sunlight and cast his short, barbaric shadow over the king’s face. “Have some breakfast.”
The king took the offered tray of bread and drink without a word, setting it down on the deck beside him.
“It’s no feast like you’ve seen in the royal courts, but soon enough a bit of hard bread and stale water will be a much welcomed meal.” The pirate left the king to himself once again.
For three days the pattern continued- the king rejected his food and drink. On the fourth day he began to take the drink, but left the bread to dry in the sun or roll off the ship’s side or be captured by the local gulls. On the fifth he began to nibble at the bread, discarding more than the majority of the loaf to be subjected to the elements.
The pirates mostly ignored him, tending to the management of their boat. At every once in awhile, one or two would stand around near the king and look at him, carrying on in their own strange tongue.
After a little more than a week, the king’s once-plump figure had begun to fade into a much thinner, weaker form. His cheeks no longer pushed out like soft pouches and his belly no longer protruded so greatly like the large tub that it once seemed. What concerned the king however, was not his appearance, but the amount of loose space that had begun to develop around his wrists. It would soon be time for him to attempt his escape- that very night would do quite well.
And just as he planned, the sun left the king alone with the night and the moon and a few drowsy pirates who paid him no great attention. And just as he planned, when the last of the nearby guards settled himself into a comfortable rest with his back to a barrel and his feet to the river, the king wriggled and twisted and pulled and struggled his wrists against their bonds until finally his hands were free. Then, as silently as he could, he reached down to his barefoot feet and likewise set them free.
Now that he could move about, the king slowly stretched his arms and legs and neck and body until he felt as loose as a starving man who had not moved for a week can feel. His next task would be difficult. He must find and bring with him Donovan, a task that could involve much sneaking about and eventually much effort to lift the injured man out of the boat.
So, the king set to work, first robbing the nearest sleeping guard of his blade and then his life as he took the man’s own sword to his sleeping chest. Time would be short before his adventure was discovered, so the king set off to find Donovan.