Siege and Storm (Shadow and Bone #2)(9)

“Let’s not get out of line, ye zho,” Ivan chided.

“You’re killing him!” I said, panicked now. I rammed my shoulder into Ivan’s side, trying to knock him down.

At that moment, a loud double click sounded.

Ivan froze, his smirk evaporating. Behind him stood a tall boy around my age, maybe a few years older—ruddy hair, a broken nose. The too-clever fox.

He had a cocked pistol in his hand, the barrel pressed against Ivan’s neck.

“I’m a gracious host, bloodletter. But every house has rules.”

Host. So this must be Sturmhond. He looked too young to be a captain of anything.

Ivan dropped his hands.

The giant sucked in air. The girl rose to her feet, still clutching her chest. They were both breathing hard, and their eyes burned with hate.

“That’s a good fellow,” Sturmhond said to Ivan. “Now, I’ll take the prisoner back to her quarters, and you can run off and do … whatever it is you do when everyone else is working.”

Ivan scowled. “I don’t think—”

“Clearly. Why start now?”

Ivan’s face flushed in anger. “You don’t—”

Sturmhond leaned in close, the laughter gone from his voice, his easy demeanor replaced by something with a sword’s edge. “I don’t care who you are on land. On this ship, you’re nothing but ballast. Unless I put you over the side, in which case you’re shark bait. I like shark. Cooks up tough, but it makes for a little variety. Remember that the next time you have a mind to threaten anyone aboard this vessel.” He stepped back, his jolly manner restored. “Go on now, shark bait. Scurry back to your master.”

“I won’t forget this, Sturmhond,” Ivan spat.

The captain rolled his eyes. “That’s the idea.”

Ivan turned on his heel and stomped off.

Sturmhond holstered his weapon and smiled pleasantly. “Amazing how quickly a ship feels crowded, no?” He reached out and gave the giant and the girl each a pat on the shoulder. “You did well,” he said quietly.

Their attention was still on Ivan. The girl’s fists were clenched.

“I don’t want trouble,” the captain warned. “Understood?”

They exchanged a glance, then nodded grudgingly.

“Good,” said Sturmhond. “Get back to work. I’ll take her belowdecks.” They nodded again. Then, to my surprise, they each sketched a quick bow to me before they departed.

“Are they related?” I asked, watching them go.

“Twins,” he said. “Tolya and Tamar.”

“And you’re Sturmhond.”

“On my good days,” he replied. He wore leather breeches, a brace of pistols at his hips, and a bright teal frock coat with gaudy gold buttons and enormous cuffs. It belonged in a ballroom or on an opera stage, not on the deck of a ship.

“What’s a pirate doing on a whaler?” I asked.

“Privateer,” he corrected. “I have several ships. The Darkling wanted a whaler, so I got him one.”

“You mean you stole it.”

“Acquired it.”

“You were in my cabin.”

“Many women dream of me,” he said lightly as he steered me down the deck.

“I saw you when I woke up,” I insisted. “I need—”

He held up a hand. “Don’t waste your breath, lovely.”

“But you don’t even know what I was going to say.”

“You were about to plead your case, tell me you need my help, you can’t pay me but your heart is true, the usual thing.”

I blinked. That was exactly what I’d been about to do. “But—”

“Waste of breath, waste of time, waste of a fine afternoon,” he said. “I don’t like to see prisoners mistreated, but that’s as far as my interest goes.”


He shook his head. “And I’m notoriously immune to tales of woe. So unless your story involves a talking dog, I don’t want to hear it. Does it?”

“Does it what?”

“Involve a talking dog.”

“No,” I snapped. “It involves the future of a kingdom and everyone in it.”

“A pity,” he said, and took me by the arm, leading me to the aft hatch.

“I thought you worked for Ravka,” I said angrily.

“I work for the fattest purse.”

“So you’d sell your country to the Darkling for a little gold?”

“No, for a lot of gold,” he said. “I assure you, I don’t come cheap.” He gestured to the hatch. “After you.”

With Sturmhond’s help, I made it back down to my cabin, where two Grisha guards were waiting to lock me inside. The captain bowed and left me without another word.

I sat down on my bunk, resting my head in my hands. Sturmhond could play the fool all he wanted. I knew he’d been in my cabin, and there had to be a reason. Or maybe I was just grasping at any little bit of hope.

When Genya brought me my dinner tray, she found me curled up on my bunk, facing the wall.

“You should eat,” she said.

“Leave me alone.”

“Sulking gives you wrinkles.”

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