Chapter Thirty-Two: Courage Refound

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Chapter Thirty-Two: Courage Refound.

Tauren stayed on the deck of the ship even when everyone else had gone below and crammed into whatever spaces they could find. The captain had warned that a storm was in the offing. All that was left on deck were one or two sailors who constantly paced the upper and forward decks.

Tauren was confused. He had no idea what would happen now ... it was like he had betrayed Laenya, Vajik, and Detrick. But mainly only Laenya. Laenya had been right ... and Tauren was sure that so had Mrs. Klaen. Laenya had done the right thing. And he had not.

And now she was probably dead. Halavarde did not take prisoners: they killed everyone. The thought was an uncertain one but it tore at Tauren's heart terribly.

One of the pacing sailors came to a stop below the spot where Tauren sat. He was frowning as he stared out into the misty ocean. “Hoy, mate ... tell me if you see anythin' o'r yonder.” The man said, nodding off to their starboard side.

Tauren glanced to his side and quickly scanned the horizon ... there was indeed something there. A dim light glimmered some few hundred yards away. As he watched a whole string of lights slipped out of the mist.

“There's something there.” Tauren replied. “Lights. And-” Tauren paused, a dark shadowy form was appearing now, tall and forboding. “I see sails. And a spar lantern.”

The sailor nodded and turning to the poop gave a might yell. “Sails-on-the horizon! All sailors abovedeck! To-arms!”

The ship flew to life in an instant. Sailors poured out of the hatch and a dishelved captain made his way to the poop. “Full sail a-port.” He yelled, his order instantly magnified and repeated by his first mate.

Tauren dropped to the deck and stopped the first mate as he ran by. “What's going on?”

“Halavardes!” The man replied, shoving Tauren away and hurrying on. Tauren gulped. A fight was coming ... this one he wouldn't be able to avoid.

“Hoy.” He called up to the captain. “Run or fight, sir?”

The captain scowled at him. “Run, fool.”

“Have we no soldiers?” Tauren called up at him.

“What?” The man yelled. “We left all our best in T'kara.”

“I'll organize a fighting force from the passengers. We're going to need it!”

The captain hesitated then nodded. “Good thinking. Go!”

Tauren nodded and bounded belowdeck. It was stuffy in the tight enclosed rooms of the ship's belly, but he found his way to the main bunk-room quickly enough. Here about seventy people stood, worriedly snapping around to him as he came in, their fearful faces lit by dim, dirty lanterns that hung from the swaying roof.

“All able bodied men!” He called out. “Gather what weapons you can and report abovedecks immediately!”

“What's going on?” One man demanded before Tauren could get back up the ladder.

“Halavardes.” Tauren replied simply, disappearing. Hopefully that would be enough. He could not afford to give these people too much time to think. Act. Give them no time for questions.

He watched as a dozen dizzy looking men gathered abovedecks, holding an assortment of knives and staves. The sailors were arming themselves as the Halavarde warship began to approach closer and closer. It was obvious they could not outrun her.

He sighed to himself and dropped down to the deck from his lookout position in the ropes.

Quickly he slung his bow off of his back. “Anyone know how to use one of these?” He siezed his quiver in another hand.

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