The irregular plod of bored seamen, their eyes virtually blind against the unmitigated glare of a lackadaisical sea absent a cloud in the sky, came suddenly and screeching to a halt with the unmistakable clink of the armor in the hold below struggling in vain against the iron yokes of the sturdy bonds. A windowed door creaked open succeeded by the heavy plodding of an overweight sailor pounding his hard wooden soles in some facsimile of eager glee across the main deck while the clinking of the struggling man cloistered in the hold below grew ever louder in apparent growing panic and developing terror only coming to a faux-friendship cessation when the footfalls began to reverberate down and down the half-rotted staircase whither hailed the stinking and feces polluted hold perverted with the broken dreams of countless stolen men.
“Arius! Arius! So good to sea you again, my old friend! How has life treated you these last ten years?”
Against the wobbling of his vision and the throbbing of his skull, the cavalier in struggle met the gaze of the mustachioed wassailer, visible only in silhouette in the virtual darkness of the hull punctuated with the day-star’s glory just rounding the corner of the posterior stairs.
“Macheda? Macheda? Is that you?” He wasn’t sure he was losing his wits. “On god’s green earth what are you doing here? What have you done with me? Release me at once! Are you out of your mind? Have you lost your wits? When my father hears of this, when the Perihelion learns of my abduction there will be nowhere on earth, nowhere under heaven, that you might hide and avoid their ceaseless wrath!”
“God’s green earth you say, Arius?” he quizzed, slowly supping the fantastic irony. “Look around you. Do you think it’s the soil that warbles around you? Do you think your comrades yet know you gone? Do you think you hail for familiar shores? You’re mine, you scruffy little shit!”
“How dare you! I’ll have you hanged, quartered, pickled, and then fucked three times from Saturday!”
“I see you haven’t lost any of that legendary wit, my friend.”
“Where are you taking me?”
“The others will have undoubtedly already told you. The southern shore. Do you know how much a knight is worth to the right people? I’m going to fancy myself a proper commodore, new clean ships and dirty rotten women! Just be sure you look proper knightly!”
“I’m not sure that I’m hearing you right. Are you really this stupid? Doesn’t matter whithersoever. They’ll come for me, and they’ll find you. I’ll find you.”
“Nonsense. Nonsense. They’d have to turn over every pebble on earth. My flesh will remain unfortunately untarnished with all the bells and whistles of mankind’s discipline, my friend. Meanwhile, you’ll be lucky there’s enough left of you in four years time to feed to the crocodiles, and I’ll be left to lament the mean disappearance of my own gambling buddy lost and shanghaied to serve out the rest of his miserable existence pulling cable and pushing the oar.”
In all that darkness, the blindness of arriving from under the glory of mighty Brassos, nothing clear could be further from the truth; expanding the fullness of his lungs, tightening in mighty cords every last millimeter of muscle, he silently undid the clasps of his bonds, which slipped away with a chattering tintinnabulation as his form again came to rest. Smiling the weird toothy grin of a man with nothing to lose, he rose to his feet, meeting his captor eye-to-eye.