Aramancia and Jun talked often. No one else in the jail was serious about talking with her. She didn’t even have to guess what they wanted with her. Jun, on the other hand, turned out to be a great friend in a time of need. They needed each other, in fact.
One day, several weeks after Aramancia had been thrown into the dungeon, she exclaimed, “Junny Boy!”
“What is it?” Jun replied. His tone was even. Months of dungeon detention had mellowed his youthful energy. It was only his conversations with Aramancia that kept him going.
“We are going to get out of here,” Aramancia declared. She shook her right hand, pointing her index finger at him. “That I can promise you.”
There was laughter from every other jail cell. Aramancia bit her bottom lip in frustration. When the laughter had died down, she yelled out, “What are you laughing out?”
“No one gets out of the Selabendi dungeon!”
The first reply was quickly followed by the second: “Haven’t you heard, little girly?”
Aramancia decided to call his bluff. “And, what would I have heard?” Her tone was utterly defiant.
The same guy responded. “No one gets out of the dungeon unless you can give the guards something they want.” He gave special emphasis to the word you.
Aramancia scoffed. Then, in a lower tone, not meant to be heard beyond her own cell: “I’ll show all of you!”
“Don’t worry about it, Manci,” Jun uttered. His eyes were sad, sadder than Aramancia had ever seen them.
Aramancia brought herself in front of Jun. She had to lean down a few inches to stand with their shoulders at the same level. She put both of her hands on his shoulders and looked directly at him, waiting for him to look up. When he didn’t, she offered an encouraging word. “Junny Boy, please look at me.” He looked into her eyes, tears flowing down both cheeks.
“This dirty dungeon with its foul mouth residents will not be our final resting place!” She squeezed his shoulders just enough to show some appreciation for his friendship. “I need you.” She paused to quickly glance in the direction of the other cells. “These other guys have given up. We cannot. If we give up now, we will die. But, if we don’t give up, our hope and our faith and our love for one another will get us through come what may.”
Even as she spoke the words, her memories of her father rushed into her mind. The exact same words had been spoken to her by the great and infamous Benito de Mar. They had been in a particular tight jam at the time. Most of the crew had given up hope that anything good was going to come of that day, but in the end, Benito and his daughter survived. So did most of the crew. Of course, the same couldn’t be said of the ship. Aramancia smiled at this memory.
Jun’s expression changed when she smiled. “What are you smiling about?”
“Just remembering something my father said to me when I was feeling much like you are.”
“Well, if you say so,” Jun acquiesced, “I guess I feel beter.”
She gave him a friendly pat on the shoulder. “There you go, kid. I knew you could do it.” She lowered her tone. “Now, how we going to do it?” She winked, and Jun knew that she had a plan.