The Flight of The Draykes
We sped out of the bay and behind us, the crowds of onlookers surged forward like a wave that would drown everything in their path as they rushed to their own ships to follow us.
But we were first off the line, and they wouldn’t catch us that easily.
But a few minutes later, when I stood in our temporary command center on the ship, my naïve thoughts were dispelled.
Tapping his foot nervously, Sir Patrick stared at Teacher, who in turn stared stone-faced at Captain Saylor.
Clearing his throat, Captain Saylor spoke in a gruff voice, “Did anybody notice?”
Nods echoed one after the other.
Then I raised my hand, a little timidly, and asked, “What were we supposed to notice?”
A kind look replacing his usual fierce expression. Captain Saylor grunted and said, “Lass, they were too slow in coming after us. The ships that launched are the riff raff gathered on the Island. The real movers and shakers haven’t launched after us.”
I felt my heart fill with a familiar feeling. “We have to fight again, don’t we?”
“Aye, lass. We have to fight.”
Letting out a breath, I blanked out as I retreated within myself and a few moments later; I awoke from my reverie with a sharp and resolute look in my eyes.
Listening in on the conversation again, I heard Sir Patrick arguing for taking a wide turn around the Island and backpedalling for a bit before heading for our new destination.
Shaking his head, Captain Saylor stayed silent for a moment before he spoke with a dark expression, “They’ll spread out a net far and wide. We’ll be like the fish that eventually runs out of space and gets caught if we do that.”
“So what do we do,” asked Sir Patrick with frustration in his voice.
“We sail for our destination.”
“What is our destination,” I interjected.
Looking at me for a long moment, Sir Faaris and Dame Bathory spoke in unison, “Home.”
I was about to ask where home was when they shook their heads and smiled at me, making it clear that it was for later.
Nodding and a little bit frustrated, I went down the hold to where Faust was.
Greeting Sir Aaron who tottered past me, drained of his warforce by Faust, I waited for the next person to appear but a long time passed but no one came.
Realizing that they were probably keeping themselves in top fighting condition, I looked at Faust, who had a small whirlpool like current above his heart.
Sitting beside him, I waited patiently for the inevitable sounds of alarm - my armor near me, weapons secured, and shield across my lap.
Running my hands over my hair, I smiled as I touched the hairpin.
Then, taking it off and letting my hair fall like a curtain, I grabbed a strand before letting it fall with a sigh.
We didn’t even have time to have a good bath on the Middle Island.
Though the past two months had been generous to us and we had plenty of opportunities to carry out repairs. Both on the ship and ourselves. Much needed repairs, I might add.
Thinking about the future. I considered our options.
If we had to fight, then I would fight. If we had to run, then I would take care of Faust and run.
But all that was for later, as I threw those thoughts away and embraced the serenity of the moment.
I was at peace with everything.
The tang of the sea, fresh upon my tongue. A familiar taste now.
The roll and sway of the ship underneath my feet.
The clinking and clanking of the various supplies and knickknacks that had been tied down.
The rise and fall of Faust’s chest as he breathed.
And everything burst into chaos as the hold’s walls splintered apart as a bolt ripped into them.
Reacting with a burst of speed, I swept up my shield and placed it in front of Faust, blocking most of the splinters that hurtled toward him.
Blinking my eyes, as alarms began to be cried out, I grimaced as I moved to check on Faust.
Relieved to see him unharmed mostly, I pulled out a few splinters from him before stumbling backward as blood fell on him from me.
Wincing, I examined myself.
Splinters peppered my entire left side that was open when the bolt ripped through the hold and blood flowed freely.
Ripping the sleeves of my tunic, I bound up the wounds quickly. Then I armed myself and with a quick kiss on Faust’s brow, I left the shield covering his body and walked with purpose on to the deck.
And on to more chaos.
Time seemed to slow as I took in the two ships barreling toward us at full flank speed, the roars of our sailors as they rose to the challenge, and the last ship that even now fired another bolt from the ballista that was bolted down on its deck.
Jumping to the side, I rose in time to see two rowers slump over lifelessly as the ballista bolt protruded from their stomachs.
Bile rising in my throat, I forced it down and unsheathed my sword, waiting for the enemy to come.
And they did.
One ship came in fast for an oar rake, but the Orcani smoothly pulled the oars in and they struck a glancing blow to our port flank and scraped past.
The momentum from the hit and the lack of oars being rowed on our port meant that as we slid past, we tilted to port and our starboard was exposed.
And they came ramming straight into us.
As they crashed into our ship, time seemed to stop as I watched my feet leave the deck and then, with a crash, I was falling back onto the deck with a grunt.
As we reeled from the impact - still intact - the enemy ramming ship backed water and then grappling hooks were flung at us and they pulled in close for boarding.
Spitting out blood, I groped around for my sword and finding the hilt of it; I rose in time to parry a descending spear and then lunged forward - skewering the man wielding it - and then, with a cry; I joined the raging melee.
As auras surged and the sea boiled, we fought on the narrow decks as spears thrust, swords riposted, and arrows buried themselves in flesh.
Then another impact shook us and the first enemy ship came up on our other side and their marines streamed onto our deck and the fighting became even more fierce.
Then with a roar, the Orcani lifted their oars and joined the fight and if we were fierce? Then they were rampaging bulls.
Our Knights desperately tried to counterattack, but then two men blazed forth with auras as a maelstrom raged around them and the Knights were forced back as the two weaponmasters charged forward.
The ring of metal on metal deafened my ears, the piercing cries of the wounded silenced my screams, and the enemies' shout as he cut down narrowed my vision.
With a cry, I raised my sword in time to parry and my sword was knocked away, clattering onto the deck away from me.
With a snarl, I swept the dagger that I had given Faust into my hand and raised it to block the next blow, only for a shield to come in between me and the blow and then a sword appeared, running through the enemy’s head.
Following the sword as it was withdrawn, I turned, and I saw a boy. An all too familiar boy who grinned at me with his eyes a little red as a horn appeared next to him and the Horn of Valor blew.
And a Drayke roared.
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