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Daughters of Fate (Chapter 15)

And Earoni took pity on the Archeons, foul and cruel beasts of ancient origin.  Taking ten of their kind, she molded their bodies into a majestic male and glorious female of each of the five races of Dragonkind and sent them forth to leave behind their brutal cousins for all eternity. 

     – Legends 23:4 

Chapter 15 (16th of Taru-Des in the year 6198) 

Sheala thumbed through one of the many, newly sorted books Reane kept on the shelves in her cabin.  She peeked around the corner into the adjacent berth where Reane was still asleep. Choosing not to disturb her, Sheala continued her mindless browsing.  

Reane scared her sometimes, Sheala admitted that to her herself.  She could never fully understand what Reane was capable of.  Sheala thought that perhaps Reane tested the boundaries of her powers far too often and without enough caution.  This time was no different.  

Bored with the book in her hands, Sheala gently closed the red leather of its cover.  The words upon it were written in some strange language that she could not read.  She was only looking at the pictures that peppered some of the pages anyway.  Sighing, she replaced the book precisely where she had found it.  

Resigned to boredom, Sheala turned to stare out the windows in the back of the ship looking across the open sea.  The pitching of the ship did not bother her anymore.  She had quickly reaccustomed herself to the movement in the two days since they had fled Catersburg.   

There were no signs of pursuit, and she breathed a sigh of relief for that.  

She dropped into the swiveling chair behind Reane’s private desk, which was held firm by a series of clamps and hooks.  Like most everything else in her cabin.  She pushed the chair forward and out of its latches so that it could move freely across the floor.    

“Perhaps Hassen,”  Sheala thought out loud. She still resolved to convince Reane to drop her off in the Borderlands before sailing on to Fimmirra.    “I’ve got a few contacts there.  And it’s outside of Hedric’s control.    The chair squeaked as she leaned back, kicking her feet up onto the desk.  

“I’m not stopping in Hassen,”  Reane’s voice caught her off guard.  With guilty quickness, Sheala’s feet dropped from the table to the floor.  The thief turned to look at the visibly tired captain as she leaned in the doorway separating her berth from the rest of her cabin.    “What do you have to fear anyway?  Your uncle?  I’m sure he’d be thrilled to see his niece again after all these years.”  

Sheala turned away indignantly.    “I’m not in too much of a hurry to see him.  It’s his fault my mother and father were killed.  I can’t forgive him for that.”  

“You’re acting like a spoiled child,” Reane scolded as she gripped her aching head.  She could not even read Sheala’s thoughts because she was not yet fully recovered.  In her weakened state, she had to fight to keep command of her powers and not let them run wild.   She had to concentrate on her own thoughts.   “Someday you’re going to have to stop feeling sorry for yourself and move on.”  

“I’d say I’ve moved on just fine.”  Sheala folded her arms.  “I’m perfectly happy where I am.”    

“You know you can’t lie to me.”   Sheala frowned at that one, truthful statement.    “You can’t run away forever.”  

“I’ve done a pretty good job so far.  I firmly believe that you stick with what works.  Put the past behind you and run as fast away from it as you can.”  

“I guess Fenwick was right after all.  Behind your tough exterior, you really are nothing but a coward.”   

The words hurt Sheala more than she would allow to be seen as she tapped the tip of a quill on the desk.  It took her a few seconds to respond.    “Fenwick never knew a thing about me.  He was just a stupid, old bard.” 

“How can you say that?  You trusted him like a father.”  

Sheala closed her eyes.  “The only father I had died long ago.  No one will ever take his place.  I just don’t see why you can’t make one little stop along the way.” 

“Because Hedric’s got a whole fleet in the northern waters blockading the elvish ports.  If we delay, that might just give them the opportunity to intercept us.”    Reane moved back into her berth.    “We’ll be at the reef in about ten days.  If the currents keep up.  Best that you accept that fact.”   

As morning broke on the water, an alert call fractured the silence of the salt air. “Fins on the horizon!”

The words were more than enough to stir Reane, still weak even after three full days of rest.  She knew the code word and knew that it didn’t mean what most would think.  

As she climbed out onto the aft deck Sheala, Brentai, and her navigator stood watching the horizon behind them to the east.  Gripping the railing tightly, Reane tried to see the faint forms on the water, but could not.  

“Captain?” Brentai spoke with concern as he watched her lean on the railing.  

“I’m fine.”   Reane reached out and grabbed the spyglass from her navigator.  “How many?”  

“About four, best I can tell.  They’re not from Hedric’s fleet.  But most probably hostile.  We’re outside the shipping lanes.  Still riding The Currents.” 

Reane focused the lenses on the forms of four cutters slicing through the waters behind The Oracle.    “Are they closing?”  They were still too small to see as much more than specks. 

“Slowly.  They could just be a convoy also taking advantage of the swift winds inside The Currents.”  

“I wouldn’t put money on that.”   Reane handed the spyglass back to her navigator.      

“Looks like the Sub-general has gone out and gotten herself some hired guns.”  

“You think it’s her?”   Brentai queried.  

“That, I would put money on.  There’s four ships.  And The Oracle was the fastest one in Catersburg … except for four; Captain Corsair’s Runners.  

The navigator returned the spyglass to his eye and took a second look.   “We can’t outrun his ships.  The Oracle’s just no match for that kind of speed.  I’d say they’ll be on us by nightfall.  Or dawn at the latest.” 

Reane seemed oblivious to his words.  “What’s our position?”  

“Probably,” the Navigator took a moment, “We should be passing due south of the Eledula Peninsula now.” 

“That puts us due north of the Telowan Islands.”  

“Yes,” her navigator responded without understanding.  

Reane bit her lip, calculating her next move.  She didn’t like it.   “Chart a course due south.”  

“Captain, we can’t -”   

Brentai agreed, “Captain, the Archeons -”  

“The what?”   Sheala chimed in frantically.    “Wait, that doesn’t sound good.  Brentai?”  

Reane ignored Brentai’s concern and Sheala’s naivety.    “You have your orders,” she told the navigator.   “Follow them, or I’ll find someone who will.” 

“Aye captain,” he accepted with obvious reluctance in his response and left to make the necessary adjustments.  

“Brentai,”  Sheala whined as she tugged on his shirt.  “Answer me!”  

Brentai ignored her and tried one last time to make Reane reconsider.    “You’ll risk destroying this ship?”   

“If I don’t,” Reane countered, “they’ll catch us.  And I’m not about to let that happen.  Think of it as giving us a chance.  And some chance is better than no chance at all.  You just make sure the crew keeps those ships off of us until we reach the Telowan Islands.”  

Reane turned and left.    

Brentai followed her from the aft deck, leaving Sheala in stunned silence alone.  She stomped her foot angrily on the deck.  “Will someone please tell me what’s going on!”  

Standing on the bow of the lead pursuit vessel, The Expeditious, Cassandra held a spyglass to her eye.  She watched the lone vessel they pursued in the distance as it began to tack on the horizon.   

“Damn,” she muttered into the stiff wind against her face.    “They’ve spotted us!”  she shouted back over her shoulder.    “New heading appears to be due south!”   

“What?!?”   a disheveled man of middle age, who walked with a limp and look liked he’d spent his entire life at sea came up next to her.  She handed him the spyglass.  His long hair whipped in the breeze as he confirmed Cassandra’s words.   “Helmsman!  Where will their new heading take them?” 

A voice called back, “The Telowan Islands, sir!”  

“She’s a damnable fool.”    The captain took a second to think, “Plot your new course!”  

“Sir?” 

The captain looked at Cassandra.  Her gaze told him all he needed to know.  And she was paying far too much for his loyalty.    “You have your orders!   Carry them out or I’ll get someone who can!”  

“Yes sir!”  the helmsman added. 

Cassandra was not impressed by the tone of the captain’s voice.    “I hope you’re not having second thoughts, Captain Corsair.”    Her voice hinted with a slight and intentional threat.  

“We’ll pursue them until the safety of my ships is of concern,” Corsair said.    “But I make you no promises.  Right now, it’s a test of wills.  We’ll play her game of chicken.”   He dropped the spyglass from his eye.  “I’ll refund twice your money if we don’t catch that ship.”  

Cassandra snatched him by the arm.  “I don’t want my money back.  I want that ship.”  She pointed. 

Captain Corsair pulled away from her grasp.    “You’ll get whatever I can deliver.”   He stormed away to plan his next moves to catch The Oracle before they sailed too far into dangerous waters. 

Cassandra remained on the prow, absently fumbling with the medallion about her neck.  She hoped for the warmth she had felt in Catersburg to return.  There was a slight tinge of it remaining.  But it was very faint.  Had she not grown so used to how cold it normally was, she may not have even noticed it.  

She could not tear the thought of the sensation of its warmth from her mind as she watched the water cut away from the hull before the ship.  She knew that not only was that rebel on that ship, but she also knew that her sister had found her way there as well.  At first, she had doubted the later.  But now that they were back in range?  She just knew it. 

Slowly the deck began to tilt as Corsair’s flagship turned to match the course of its prey. 

Cassandra worried about Corsair’s loyalty.  It was, after all, only based on money.  Cassandra would have to persuade him not to give up the chase no matter the cost.  But she also knew that when it came to a choice between a Captain’s ship and money, the ship would always be given deference. 

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