“Runt!” She grabbed him by his horns, pulling his face to hers. “Runt!”
Kaine reached over and took her by the arm. “He’s ok! He’s hurt, but he’s alive. His wounds are healing, as are all of ours. He’ll be ok. He should wake up in a few minutes. But listen. We’re in trouble here. Big trouble. And I don’t know what to do. Sophia, I need you to focus. Runt’s going to be ok.”
Sophia looked up from Runt, and her eyes met Kaine’s. She took a deep breath, steadied herself, and looked around. “If anything had happened to him, I’d never forgive myself,” she said. Kaine and Trick gave each other a guilty glance, but she didn’t seem to notice. “What happened? Where are we?”
Kaine gestured to the altar beneath them. “The short version is this: The captain and the crew of this ship worship Exterminis. They’ve captured us, and put us in this cell. They intend to make us convert to the cult of Exterminis. If we won’t convert, they plan on sacrificing us to him. Smedley’s here, and he’s given us some gloves that will allow us to trick the captain into thinking we’ve converted, but they won’t fit Runt. We figured the rest of us could pretend to convert, then join up with Smedley and his assassins, but we don’t know what to do about Runt. I’m all out of ideas, so we were hoping you’d know what to do.”
Sophia closed her eyes, and began moving her lips silently. The others had seen her pray before, so they waited patiently. After a few moments, she opened her eyes and began to speak.
“It won’t be enough for us to pretend to convert. That’s only half the ceremony. Pledging yourself is only the beginning, After we’ve pledged ourselves, Captain Terrapin will summon one of the Nine Servants of Exterminis, a powerful demon lord who will take our souls. That’s the true conversion…total enslavement to Exterminis.”
“Fuck me,” said Kaine and Trick simultaneously.
Nightshade chimed in, “Yes, indeed. If that happens, we’ll be thoroughly fucked, indeed.”
“So what do we do?” asked Kaine.
“We’ll pretend to convert, just like you said. We’ll offer Runt up as a sacrifice. That’ll get the rest of us out of the cage, at least. Once we’ve converted, Terrapin will start the ceremony immediately, I think. Since he hasn’t already taken Smedley’s soul, he’ll be looking forward to giving us all over at once. That’s when we need to make our move. As soon as the ceremony starts, all hell needs to break loose.”
“Tell us what we need to do,” said Kaine.
“I’ll be pretending to help the captain cast the spells necessary for the ceremony. It will be tricky, but I think I can actually work to weaken his magic without his notice. There’ll be a point in the ceremony where I will suddenly be engulfed in purple flames. When that happens, Smedley and the assassins need to backstab as many people as they can. Kaine, your job is to save Runt. Get to the cage, and prevent anyone from opening it. Keep him safe inside, Kaine. Whatever you do, don’t let them open this cage. Trick, I need you to desecrate the altar. Here. Take these.” She handed two vials of clear liquid to him. “They’re filled with holy water. If you break them on the altar, the holy water will desecrate it. This is the most important part; I can’t emphasize it enough. We must desecrate that altar before they drop Runt into it. Not just to save his life, but to save all of us. If they manage to sacrifice Runt before we desecrate the altar, they’ll be able to summon that demon lord, and we aren’t prepared for that.”
“What do you need me to do?” asked Nightshade.
“Nightshade, my beautiful friend, I need you to do what you do best. Kill the captain.”
Nightshade flashed a wicked grin. “I can definitely do that.”