The North Sea
Niall Sinclair blinked, trying to open his eyes, but pain shot across his left brow and cheek. His vision was nothing more than a wavering fog, with pinpricks of bright light sending stabbing twinges shooting through his skull.
Disoriented, he struggled to clear his head and regain his sight. However, when he attempted to raise his right hand to feel the aching left side of his face, his arm would not obey his command. His hands were bound behind him. When he shook his head to clear the cobwebs, a searing pain tore through his temples. He stopped. In all his thirty years, even when the tip of a broadsword wounded him during battle and left its mark across his chest, he had never endured such pain.
A sudden wave of nausea had him swallowing bile. Pain erupted once more from his wrists to his neck. While he contemplated whether he had broken bones or dislocated a shoulder, a movement to his right made him as rigid as a Scottish standing stone. Until he knew if the movement was either friend or foe, his best option was to appear docile and unconscious.
“He be awake. Better fetch the capt’n.”
The voice rumbled low and craggy, like an old hound coughing up a bone. Its owner came no closer. Niall threw his head back in an unwise attempt to see the owner, and slammed against something hard and unyielding. They had bound his hands around whatever stood behind him. From its circular shape, his first thought was a tree. However, the wood was smooth against his naked back and buttocks, and the gentle rolling of the hard surface beneath his feet suggested the mast of a ship. The stranger’s use of the word captain added to his conclusion, yet how could he have ended up on a ship?
Several other voices, along with the heavy stomping of boots, drew closer. A breath of cool air swept his damp hair across his face, and he could see little of his surroundings. When the same breeze made certain body parts shrink, he realized he was soaking wet, and naked.
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