The Prisoner


3. Renegade Adventurer

It was a star-studded night when Kai had boarded the ship. He hadn ’ t even noticed the

rolling sea or the stars winking at him from above. He still didn ’ t know how many days he was

on the ship, though dates never proved to be of much importance to him. The only way to tell

time was by the growling of his stomach, a measurement he stilled used.

When he thought it was safe and that he had time to snoop around, he ’ d hold his breath

and strain his ears to listen intently. If he heard nothing, not a cough or the creak of a floor plank,

Kai would poke his head over the top of the crate and glance around, squinting into the darkness.

If, and only if, he thought the room was completely empty, and he believed no one would be

down for a while, he ’ d quietly clamor out of the crate. It took a while at first to suppress the

buzzing nerves that flew like bees in his stomach, but soon, he no longer worried. It became

second nature.

He never took from the same crate twice. Luckily for him, many of the crates seemed to

hold different essentials. In the ones closer to the door, he found what he had heard the crew call

“ perishables ” , which consisted of fresh fruits that he couldn ’ t identify and bread. In one crate,

closer to his, he found flour and sugar and some black, gritty powder that had a delicious aroma

but tasted terrible.

In another, Kai had found crackers and jams. He had plenty to eat, and had a small meal

once a day, hoping no one would notice the missing rations. As hours passed — and days, he

assumed — he had begun to hope that their journey wouldn ’ t last any longer. He spent his days

between the thick layers of blankets, picturing what the sea must look like from the deck of the

ship until the day they had docked.

He ’ d just fallen asleep again when the hull burst to life. Kai heard multiple pairs of

footsteps coming in and out, sometimes louder and other times softer. The sound of wood

groaning and grown men grunting could be heard through the layers of wool until his crate was

upset and he was swaying, his elbows coming close to knocking on the wood.

Seagulls and people bustling about what he assumed to be a dock could be heard fading

in the distance as his crate was set down. A whip cracked, and a horse neighed. Kai ’ s crate was

jostled. He couldn ’ t hear any other voices and risked peeking out of the crate through the lid,

which still lay askew on its top.

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