Chapter 17 - Sails Aflame

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Dragonfire Sea

Captain Bennett was called from his slumber by a loud trumpet blast. Another sounded immediately thereafter. At the third, he hoisted his lanky frame from his cot and reached for his pants, scrambling to do the ties.

One blast meant land lay ahead. Two signaled the approach of another ship. Three calls of the trumpet meant only one thing—"Pirates, Captain Bennett!" his cabin boy shouted through his locked door, banging his fist upon it.

"I'm commin' boy!" he called from within. "Gods above!" he muttered as he pulled on his boots and fastened his belt, which contained his sword and other effects.

Beaky squawked sleepily from her perch, protesting the interruption to her sleep. Damn bird slept too much. "Let's go ya bleary-eyed bird." He tapped his shoulder and Beaky gave another protest before spreading her wings and flapping into position. She was getting old, as was he. Birds like her lived for several ten-score years. He had found her as a young lad in the southlands, on the tropical islands of the Great Delta. She was only a hatchling then and had since become his companion. At times, she was a downright nuisance. It didn't help that she picked up far too many words. When she began mouthing off, the name Beaky stuck.

With Beaky on his shoulder, he rushed to the deck. His first mate met him immediately, ready with an update, "Two ships, Captain. George spotted 'em from the nest. They came upon us quick. Lorchas they be, from the looks of it, and fast ones at that."

"Pirates! Pirates!" Beaky repeated in her high-pitched voice.

His first mate led him to the poop, talking all the while. "The wind be in our favor, Captain Bennett, but with sails let, we're maxed out at six knots. These pursuers though, these are doing eight at least." His first mate handed over the spyglass.

Taking the scope, he held it to his eye and had a good, long look. There were indeed two lorchas, the pirate ship of choice in these parts. Lorchas were speedy by nature, depending on the cargo they carried. In this instance, his own cargo greatly weighed down his vessel. Ice Metal was heavy. His ship, the Lady Faith, was one the fastest in the merchant fleet. Unfortunately, Lady Faith's precious goods weren't doing them any favors. "Sink me! 'Tis too soon for this!" he muttered to no one in particular.

"Sink me! Sink me! Sink me!"

"Quiet, Beaky!" He gave Beaky's head a pat, and then looking at his first mate and said, "There is no escaping them, Jonah." He returned the spyglass. "If they get close enough to use their rams and grappling hooks, our voyage will be at an end."

Jonah shook his head in disbelief. "Perhaps we can make it to the nearest port?"

"No, that's doubtful. Closest one is in Stormy Bay—Redport. At their speed, they will run us down long before."

They had been at sea a mere six days since departing Port Ice. He knew there would be problems on the journey back to Kastali Dun, but he hadn't anticipated them this early. Alas, disaster was upon them—fortunately he had a keen mind for this sort of thing (he came mentally prepared when he agreed to this mission).

"Jonah, we must prepare for the worst." His voice was solemn.

"Prepare for the worst. Prepare for the worst," Beaky began to chant. They both ignored her.

"Aye. I agree. What'll ya have me do?" Jonah rolled up the sleeves of his tunic.

"Send the row-men below. Right now, we need all the speed we can get. I'll steer the helm towards Stormy Bay, and in the meantime, I already have a plan brewing."

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