Ch. 6. The Daughter Has Two Suitors?

Peino whipped up the crewmen with shouts and shoves, as they raised the two long rods, the heavy ballistas mounted at the stern of the castle deck.

“What shot, Captain?” asked one of the men, a burly, scarred seaman.

Peino glared, snarling, at the on-coming ship as the hatches crashed open on the deck and the heavy machines were cranked up out of their beds on their retractable platforms.  He was quickly calculating their likely defenses based on the size and style of the galleon, as well as thinking of what was needed against the monstrous giant larva that held the Daughter fast, and running through his memory of the ordinance on board.

“Aura Storm,” he said, “Banes of Wind, Ancient Doom…” The snarl became a smile momentarily, even as another salvo flew their way.  “See if we have any Become Serpents.”

“Aye, Captain,” the sailor grinned back.

He took off with one of his shipmates just as the shout went up from the yards.  “Take cover!”

The spriggan’s spears slammed into the Daughter’s decks and sails, spewing molten sludge in all directions, which burst into flame on the wood.  Sailors scrambled to shovel the fiery dreck over the side while archers above turned their arrows from the Blood Larva to the pirate vessel, sending bolts of lightning flying towards her.

“Hold up there!” Peino shouted at the archers.  “Stay on that monster!”

“Captain!” yelled bo’sun Vaet Longblade from the foot of the steps up to the castle.  “I can put five archers on that pirate.”

“Nay,” barked Peino, “kill that beast before all else.  We’re dead in the water as long as it’s on us.”

Longblade threw up his hands but obeyed while Peino turned his attention to aiming the ballistas and the two sailors came running with the heavy, nine-foot spears on their shoulders.  Each long shaft was tipped with a long point of metal or stone enchanted with a magic spell of war.

The first salvo was Banes of Wind in one ballista, Ancient Doom in the other.  The big levers were pulled back by two men each, arming the bows.  Three spears were loaded in each machine, which could take a maximum of six and fire two rounds a minute.

Peino waited for the angles of the ships to come to where he wanted them.

“Let go!”

The mallets hit the locks, and the bow cords snapped with a brutal force that jerked the deck under their feet.  The spears flew, and the men immediately pulled and locked the levers to load again, while Peino watched the missiles.

He saw white splashes in the water, but he also saw some of the spriggan’s sails flutter and go limp, and one began to tear, and he heard the satisfying “boom of doom” and a cloud of smoke rising from the pirate’s bow.

He flashed that snarling grin again.  “Excellent.  Again.”

The team on the ballistas, well-trained by their captain in this and many other skills, quickly found a rhythm, and kept up a steady barrage, sending out missiles faster than the spriggan ship could match.  In a short while, the wizard Nyora Watersinger was casting shields of water and aura around the Daughter, and the shouts of the crew battling the monster began to sound more ordered.

With the spriggan slowing as it lost sails, but not slowing its attacks any, Peino ordered the Spears of Aura Storm loaded into the ballistas.

“If they’ve a summoner on board, let’s see if we can put paid to his tricks,” he said through the crash of projectiles striking around them.

“Captain, look!”  One of the sailors pointed up to the sky.

Out of the high clouds that stretched like banners on the gale descended a bizarre contraption, half sailing ship, half inflated pig’s bladder.

“What the–?”  A ship of the air, though like none he’d ever seen before — not at all like his brother’s elemental ship.  But what wizard would be out here now, running one of their daft experiments?  Or… Peino went cold as he thought, Do we have two enemies?

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