Captain Filarias lowered his spyglass, as the dark cloud billowed into the sky. “Fessas, it may be that your wild innovation will be tested.”
The weedy little scholar grinned at him, clutching designs to his chest. “Honourable Captain, if this ship performs as she should then no Arkan will be stolen away from us, as a slave.”
The dust coast was a roil of smoke and wingers and sand blown out to sea. The main line was closing on the barracoon and a stream of small ships, full of casualties and freed slaves, fled the line, northward toward the safety of the enclosed Miatara Sea. Once they passed the shallows at the Rock, north and south, through the Gates of Stone, they had a straight flight to Haiu Menshir, where healers waited on the floating land. Sailors were already making up stories about the floating island built of hulls from Arko, planks from Laka, towers of defense all around from Hyrene, guarded by ships of the Tor Enchian line.
The captain laid a hand on the gunnel of the ship and was certain that there was a response from the golden hull. She was build of spiderwood out of Sriah where the dense, rigid wood grew in vast honeycombs. Her keel was a single spiderwood tree and the ram, dipping in and out of this turbulent ocean, was tipped in bronze from the far north islands. The ‘Hound of Dimae’ was painted with the odd Yeola-e milk paint that fused into a single sheet of what seemed to be gold, but was stronger than spider silk.
The young innovator clutched his papers to his chest. This was his idea, flung out to the world, the first ever open sea trial of his concept. The hull had been rushed into the slips when the Imperator had spoken, when General Pasen had said ‘Try this.’
“What was your name again?” Filarias bent over the rail and addressed the ship designer.
“Minisalas Rikam,” he stammered, looking up at her.
“Minisalas… it looks as though your design is going to get its test.”
“Oh, really?” The boy’s face lit up and then fell as he realized it might not be appropriate.
He scrambled up the gangway, robes and under robes and hair and paper flying everywhere as he pushed past the top rowers and achieved the shade deck. “Captain, what does that one mean?”
“Well. We have an untested hull with an unabashedly odd innovation. One hundred eighty rowers in a trimaran shape… fifty back-up rowers, sixty sailors for a three-master cormarenc rigged top. Do you think we can catch up to that schooner there?”He offered him the spyglass.
The scientist seized it and nearly gave himself a black eye with it, trying to see. “There’s only the one schooner spreading sail off the end of the line,” he said, panting. “Is it our job… what are we… should we… Captain?”
He took the glass back from the boy. “The line is contracting on the port. The air support is now signaling us specifically. You see? Hound, Hound Hound…?”
“That schooner is full of slaves and trying to run to the Yaller Islands. Our job…” he paused then smiled. “Our job is to see if we can catch up with this Fehinnan captain and…” he paused again.
“…find out if they wish to heave-to, for kaf and crumpets.”
The Captain snapped the glass shut as the oarsmen began their timing chant. The innovator tumbled to the deck as the ship surged forward, hunting. The Captain laid one hand lightly on the rail. “She’s eager. We’ll see if she likes your ideas, Rikam. There are probably two to three hundred people enslaved on that Fehinnan ship who would really like us to catch up with them.”