Casualties of War

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"Oh?" Van Joss frowned as he spread out his cloak onto the floor to dry.  At the same time Longspear took the opportunity to make her way to one of the cabin's slit windows to look out.  Salina, turning a little green from the constant heaving, decided to stay in a corner with her knees pulled up to her chest as he fought the desire to forcibly expel her most recent meal.

- Yes. -  Qu'en'ak confirmed.  - This gift will allow you to speak with the Sea Wolves! -

That was enough to make van Joss stand straight in surprise.

"You're giving me the gift of Mind Speech?" he asked, his tone filled with enough astonishment that Longspear turned away from the window to look at him with an expression of curiosity.

- Yes. - Qu'en'ak repeated.  - It's the only way you'll have to speak with them during battle, van Joss.  Are you ready? -

"Ready?" Van Joss frowned.  "Ready for what??"

It hit him almost like a physical blow, a hot sensation that burned deep into his brain.  Pain immediately erupted in the sensation's wake, sudden and devastating enough to force van Joss down to his knees with his mouth open in a silent scream.Catching sight of the slender operative falling down, Longspear quickly rushed to his side.  But van Joss didn’t even feel her touch on his burning skin as the hot spear of pain pushed deeper and deeper into his living flesh, consuming his every thought and sensation.

And, when he thought he could take no more, the spear exploded into a thousand fragments, each growing to a burning spear of its own to push into every part of his brain.  The room slowly began to spin, picking up speed until it blurred by van Joss’s tearing eyes.  At the same time a pulsing sensation began to push aside the pain, quickly followed by the sounds of thousands of voices, all screaming at once.

“I, . . I can’t, . . ,” van Joss began to groan.  Then, despite his hardened consciousness, the world was torn from him by the pulsing sensation and, eyelids fluttering back into his skull, he slumped to the deck, unconscious.

The lean human returned to consciousness by first becoming aware of voices.  At first all he could hear was the sound of the voices, low and powerful, filled with urgency.  As he focused on them, they slowly resolved into actual words.  Words that sent cold adrenaline surging through his own veins.

- Sound the alarm.  We are under ATTACK! -

The human came awake with a shout.  Only to find himself in Longspear’s arms.

“Thank the Maker you’re all right!” she gasped, seawater streaming down her face.  Both her hair and clothing were soaked to her skin.

“What?  What’s going on?” van Joss asked thickly, his mind filled with nonsensical babbling.

Abruptly the sled lurched hard to the side, the planks beneath their feet creaking from the side impact.  A heartbeat later a wave of cold water pounded over the low gunwales to splash heavily against the cabin’s outer wall, the wood whining in protest against the pressure.

Longspear winced as a surge of spray slashed through gaps in the walls and into the cabin to soak them all as the boat was hammered from the other side.

“We’re under attack!” she hissed, glancing out the doorway where pale sunlight was barely visible through the mist that was being kicked up all around the small vessel.  “Most of the Sea Wolves are already in the water.  But they’re not having much success in holding whatever is attacking us, off.  So we’ve been pulling to the northeast, trying to reach reinforcements coming from the central Alanic!”

Learning that was enough to send a jolt of adrenaline through the lean operative's body, restoring some of his strength and determination.

“We’re off course?” he rasped, gritting his teeth against the spinning in his head as he fought to stand, with Longspear’s help.

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