Irikaias came up the ratlines, holding hard to the stays as Dimae’s Hound bayed after the two Fehinnan trap ships, came round the outside. “Alfalaria, Cap says you’re to come down to main hull cabin.”
Alfalaria, on the platform next to the ‘lubber’s hole’, had her bare legs wrapped tight and clung with one hand to the ropes over her head. “Why? Because it’s safer? Irikai, there’s no place ‘safer’ on board. Main hull’s easiest to hit with their carron balls and if they use rigging cutters I’m still safe ‘gainst the mast. If the mast comes down then we’re all in trouble.”
Irikaias nodded and slid down to sprint over to the First to pass on the message. Captain Filarias stood like a statue, ‘lookers raised, watching the two ships fleeing before them. The wind had picked up and the cry from below was ‘Thirty-ONE knots!”
They were close enough that Alfalaria could see with her own, unassisted eyes, the crews scrambling on the schooner, loading the carrons, four people to each crew. “Four,” she whispered. “Not sixteen.”
The Hound had enough daylight to catch the Fehinnans and Filarias had piled on the sail, rushing into their teeth, obviously hoping to use her speed to throw off their weaponry. “Run down their throats,” she whispered. “Rip ‘em out from inside.”
BOOM. She flinched as one carron fired. There was a spouting splash off the bow, larboard. BOOM, BOOM. More spouts. The smoke fled before them all. The barquatine rig was heeling off to port spilling wind, resetting to sail down on them. BOO-CRASH. The Hound shuddered as a stone ball smashed into the main hull, but even at the waterline the bronze ram rang and she shook off the strike. Alfalaria gasped and shut her eyes, hearing the Fehinnan cheers, faintly, but no Arkan screams. No. You pry your eyes open girly and you watch and watch hard and watch right! It was her papa’s voice and she told herself the words he’d said so many times.
BOOM. Splash! It was a miss so close she was sprayed with the fountain of it and a shout from the First Mate. The springald crews, like hunting dogs unleashed, howled their defiance at the ships still barely out of their reach. The fore’rd springald master, right over the ram, sighted along his stick, kneeling, the ship dipped, rose, plunged over the waves being whipped by the strengthening wind.
"Dimae help us, Aras help us, Mikas burst their carrons!"