“Idiot!” Leguna insulted as his face turned glum, “Thanks to your messing around, none of us can leave now.”
“But he did say he cared about his men, didn’t he?” A trace of hatred flashed past Eimon’s eyes before he gestured for the other prisoners to hold the unconscious sailors hostage.
“Listen here, old fool! You should know these methods are not beneath people like us. If you value the lives of your men at all, you better let us leave this instant!” yelled Eimon in desperation, his eyes darting around to locate the source of the sound.
“Please understand your current predicament. You don’t even have anything to bargain with. I’m only giving you one chance. If you give up, I will make sure your end isn’t an ugly one,” mused the captain without bothering with Eimon’s threat.
“I’ll show you what I have!” Eimon snickered before he swung his sword towards the sailor at his side. Before his hand could go any further, however, he was shocked to find he could no longer move his body.
It was a level three petrification spell. Given its simple effect, the spell was stronger the closer the dictator was to his target. It was apparent an eighth stratum magus’s petrification spell was more than enough to stop Eimon, who did not have a trace of impetus, from blinking.
The captain gradually appeared at the entrance. In fact, he had been there, invisible, all along, looking calmly at the situation in the jail. When he manifested, his hands burst into a waving fury as numerous magical bullets headed straight for the armed prisoner’s faces in beautiful arcs.
“This is my final warning. Those who can still move, get back into your cells and secure yourselves with the chains! Otherwise, I’ll roast you alive!” barked the captain coldly with a fireball that emanated waves of shuddering heat floating within the palm of his right hand.
Seeing the prisoners succumb to his first volley of attacks, the captain gradually relaxed and dispersed the fireball in his hands. He maintained only his cold stare. It was at that time when a small, thin silhouette rushed out from the group of people and squeezed through the small gap between the captain and the entrance, making its way out to the deck.
Darn it, I forgot about that kid! thought the captain, shocked.
He had to monitor the prisoners, however, and couldn’t exactly give chase. He was certain Leguna wouldn’t be able to escape with Hans’s aide present, though.
Leguna’s heart thumped like a loud drum. He knew not where his dedication and courage to escape came from, but after he heard all the prisoners were people who had committed crimes that warranted capital punishment or lifelong sentences as slaves, Leguna couldn’t help but feel deep fear for his future.
While it was true and only natural for a child a little over ten years like him to fear death, he was mad at Eimon and the rest and couldn’t imagine living with the three murderers. That was why he chose to escape when the captain’s attention was not focused on him. Right now, however, he regretted his rashness.
The third-in-command looked at Leguna with surprise. He had never expected a prisoner like him to have fifth strata impetus. Not only that, he was the one Hans picked on the most. However, he had chilled his gaze and prepared to kill the escaping prisoner, as stipulated by the empire’s laws.
He unslung the bow on his back and drew an arrow from the quiver in a swift motion. After nocking the arrow, the low thrum of a bowstring could be heard as an impetus-infused arrow shot towards the boy with eye-blurring speed. Hans’s aide was actually a ranger well-versed in archery!
Leguna swerved his head sideways and the arrow barely missed his head. It scraped his scalp as it flew by. The trace of impetus on the arrow opened a small wound near Leguna’s ear. Blood dripped from it slowly.
The captain noticed, and suddenly realized he had never informed the aid that Leguna was to be treated differently from the normal prisoners. The arrow had almost taken the child’s life, and the aide was already preparing his second shot.
“Spare his life!” shouted the captain.
The aide, shocked to hear the captain’s instruction, accidentally released his arrow. It nicked the child’s arm, drawing even more blood.
Leguna was terrified by the prospect of his imminent death. In his ten-odd years of life, this was his first tussle with death itself! Such fear pushed him to the brink of a mental collapse.
The single thought that dominated his little mind was simple: I need to leave! His immense drive to survive had taken control of his body and caused him to run straight to the walls nearby.
Idiot, how can you scale a wall that high?
The ranger continued to draw his bow once more leisurely. This time, his target was Leguna’s calf. What happened a second later, however, completely threw the ranger into a stupor. The moment the kid reached the wall and melded into the shadows, a black smoke emanated from his body and wrapped around him before it gradually spread upwards. By the time the smoke subsided, he was nowhere to be seen!
“W-w-w-what the heck is going on here?!” cursed the aide.
The captain had subdued the remaining prisoners and ran to the ranger’s side.
“What’s wrong? Where’s the brat?”
“I… That brat… He was forced to that wall over there… and he… a black smoke came out of nowhere… and then the brat was gone!” stammered the aide in reply.
“The heck, is something wrong with your eyes or did you turn insane?!” retorted the captain disbelievingly.
“It’s true! I saw it with my own eyes!” argued the aide.
“So you mean to say he was here just now and managed to escape using a transference spell?” asked the captain, furrowing his brow.
“That’s right…That’s definitely it!” nodded the aide.
“Definitely your ass! The transference spell is a fifth stratum spell, even I can’t dictate it. How could a brat of ten do it? He isn’t even someone who’s trained in impetus. Do you think a brat like him can both be a tenth stratum magus and an impetus user?! Don’t make me take the blame for your damaged brain!”
The captain dropped all decorum and merely continued to rebuke the third-in-command.
“I swear it’s true!” said the aide, his fingers in the air.
Before he finished, Hans finally came over to resolve the situation.
“Captain! How’s the situation?” asked Hans.
“It isn’t too bad. All the prisoners were apprehended. Only Leguna managed to escape,” replied the captain grumpily.
“What? That brat actually managed to escape?” asked Hans, shocked.
“Just ask your aide. He’s the only one who had an eye on the brat,” replied the captain.
After another round of arguments, Hans and the captain had no choice but to accept the aide’s explanation.
“What do we do now, Captain?” asked Hans.
The captain paused in thought for a few moments.
“Send some of the crew to search the area tonight. If we can’t find him by daybreak, we’ll continue our voyage as planned!” answered he finally.
“But captain, didn’t you say Leguna was handed to you personally by Master Marolyt? If we don’t take him to our destination in one piece, how will you explain this when you get back?” reminded Hans.
“It’s no big deal. The master only instructed me to bring him to Lance alive. If possible, I was to deliver him to Starfall but we’ve completed our mission even if we don’t,” replied the captain.
“Why did you have me mess with the kid, then?” asked Hans, unable to resist his curiosity.
“Well… I can only say it’s a whim of the master,” the captain said as he smiled bitterly when he recalled what Marolyt told him: ‘When the child’s on board, have someone mess with him! As long as you don’t cause permanent harm, you can do anything you want! That darned brat… There’s no way I’ll let him off this easily for barging into my territory!’