Sharp wind cut through the thin blanket that William had wrapped around himself. He took a shuddering breath and crouched next to a crate to block the wind.
“First time to Njordr?”
William looked up at the voice, eyes dead. He nodded.
“You look cold.”
William nodded again.
“I’m Asja. Asja Gatewatch. And you’re William, yes?”
Sighing, William sat straighter. “What do you want, Asja?”
“Well… the others were saying that you were one of the guys in charge of the Sea Beggar? Big fan of your business. I was the one who helped Fearghas Llewyn get North.”
William shrugged, still not really interested in pursuing the conversation.
“Well, before we left, the captain, Julio de Monique? He said that you could use some help.”
William sighed. “No. I really don’t want any help. I don’t care who you are. I just want to be left alone.”
“God, you’re depressing.” Asja folded her arms and shook her head.
William shook his head as well and huddled down again.
Asja shook her head. “Look. Julio told me about Miss Tiarnan. Said you’d need some help getting back on your feet.”
William felt his anger building, but shook his head again and didn’t respond.
“I’m trying to help,” she said with a sigh. “If you don’t want it, I’ll just leave you alone.”
Pulling the blanket tighter around himself, William sank back down to his slumped position.
Shaking her head, Asja turned and walked away.
How dare he. How dare Julio tell this stranger about him, about his business. And how dare she bring up Lile. He gritted his teeth and tried to fall asleep. He dreamt of Lile.
He awoke to wind whipping past his face and his stomach lurching. He was falling. He hit the water and his breath was slammed from his chest. He fought his way to the surface and took a deep breath. He looked around, treading water. It was dark. William grabbed the edge of the boat and began to pull himself from the water, letting his waterlogged blanket fall from his body. He heaved himself over the rail and collapsed to the deck. He rolled over, still gasping for air. An axe hit the deck next to him and his eyes rose to meet those of a thickset man with njordic markings coating his skin. William’s eyes opened wide.
“What the hell?!”
The man lowered the axe toward him. “Don’t move you fat swine.”
William held his hands up, somewhat relieved. Maybe they’d just kill him.
Sitting in the boat, all William could hope for is that he’d freeze to death. His eyes were dull and he couldn’t feel his fingers anymore. He wished they would at least have left him his mask. They were sailing North, towed behind the enemy’s ship. He tried to feel something at the very least, but honestly couldn’t. Maybe it was good that he’d survived, but he didn’t care, not without Lile. North.