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Chapter 49



Yerril was standing at the helm, with Kevesk and Derrl at his sides, as the storm bore down on them, directly astern. The wind had kicked up to near gale force winds and the ship seemed to skim the crests of the waves as it flew in front of the oncoming squall. The lines were stretched wire taut and the sheets bellied out. They flew directly before the wind, partly to find out just how fast she could go and how she would hold up. But also because it was all Yerril could do the keep her on a straight course let alone turn her head. Yerril was worried, and he had just cause, since they were barreling straight down on the Honite reef. The wind howled about their ears as they stood on the deck. Fortunately for the crew, the fact that they were not changing course and the wind not shifting, combined to make it so that they would not have to climb the rigging, for had they done so, the wind would have surely torn them off the mast and ropes. Essentially everyone but the three at the helm were below decks, sheltered from the wind.

Yerril shouted something but his words were ripped away by the howling, ravaging wind. Kevesk cupped his hands around his mouth and leaned over to shout into Yerril's ear.

"What?" his question barely made it to the captain's ear before being ripped to shreds. He leaned to put his ear beside Yerril's mouth as he turned his hand to speak.

"We're coming up to the Honite reef, we need to turn away!" Kevesk nodded understanding of Yerrils words then shook his head "no". He once more made a megaphone of his hands and leaned into Yerril's ear.

"No, don't turn her away. Keep her straight. We're going through that reef. I think the Pride can take it. If she starts to break up I'll take care of it." The sounds of ropes swinging in the gale force winds, and sheets snapping in the same gale nearly drowned out his words. Nevertheless, Yerril understood his meaning but didn't want to believe. What kind of madman would take a ship through the reef, let alone at this reckless speed. The jagged reef would tear out the ship's bottom at the very least. He shook his head in an exaggerated gesture and mouthed the word "no" at the elder wizard. Kevesk shook his head. He rapidly traced a rune in front of himself with his hands. He spoke once more, not bothering to cup his hands around his mouth, but the wind did not tear away the words. Instead his amplified voice boomed over the noise of the racing wind.

"We will take her through the reef!" The awesome sound of his voice reverberated over the wind with a note of finality. "You can cooperate, or not, but one way or another this ship is going through that reef."

Overwhelmed and awed by this god-like voice of power, Yerril could do little more than nod in assent and keep the Pride before the wind on a course for the reef. While they drew closer to the reef, the elder mage twitched his fingers rapidly, to form a rune. He began tracing other runes in the air with his index finger, leaving a trail of blazing energy that hung in the air as flaming lines of new runes. Two of the runes were completely unfamiliar to Derrl, though one bore a resemblance to the one he had used in his trek across water and air. He closed his eyes and searched for the presence of the runes but found nothing, as of yet they were not runes, only lines of energy in the air, they remained to be infused with energy when they were needed. Derrl guessed that Kevesk had done this in order to not waste time tracing them when they were needed.

The distance between them and the reef was only now nearly crossed, and it loomed dark, sharp and angry before them. Yerril only knew that in moments his ship would be torn asunder, and he and crew would shortly be dashed upon the sharp rocks of the reef.

The crew braced themselves against whatever was handy, bulkheads, mess tables that were bolted to the floor below decks. Water streamed down the hatchways and poured down the ladders from the deck above. Water sloshed around most of the crewmember's feet as they waited for the impact and the incoming rush of water. A few stalwart men stayed on the deck, covered in their oilskins but drenched to the bone nonetheless. They stood braced against the mast and railings, braving the fury of the storm that followed them like a large, brooding, black hound as it chased them, growling and snarling like something out of hell. Those few that stayed above decks did so for fear of being trapped should water fill the hull rapidly as she sank. Some huddled in sodden heaps, others were lonely humps on the deck as the sea washed over them and the rain covered them in sheets.

The ship lurched suddenly, as it struck the reef. The sounds of continuous thunder, accompanied by the howling wind nearly drowned out the bone wrenching tearing sound that assailed the crew's ears, both above and below decks. The water bucketing out of the sky made all sight more than a hand's breadth away ineffectual. Though the crew knew that they had struck the reef, though they ran frantically below decks, they could not find the breach in the hull. They could not simply look for signs of water, for the rain had filtered down through everything, coming in through the hatchways, leaving water swirling and splashing around feet as they sludged along in search of the breach. What few crew members looked over the side of the Pride saw nothing through the spray and rain. Nor could anything be heard over the howls and screams of the wind.

Derrl waved his hands directly in front of Kevesk's face in order to get his attention. He cupped his hands around his mouth, placed them beside the grizzled, rain-beaten, mage's ear and shouted.

"You've got to call off the storm. I think there might be a break in the hull. We need to be able to find it." The anxiety that showed on his face was mirrored on Yerril's.

In response to his shouted request the sodden mage obliterated the sizzling lines of light in front of him and the runes that held the storm in place, all the while smiling oddly. "I think that you won't find the hole no matter how hard you look." While this made Derrl puzzled, it alarmed the captain, and his reaction showed clearly on his face. The wind and the rain were dying down rapidly, and they were no longer forced to yell to be heard from less than a pace away.

"Kevesk, we absolutely have to find that hole and patch it now! This ship is in danger of sinking!" The excitement showed on his face, and the look on Yerril's face escalated from alarm to fear, for his ship and crew, and beyond. His emotions made themselves evident in his voice as he shook the older mage by the front of his tunic. Kevesk extricated himself from his grip, still smiling.

"You won't find the hole," His grin grew perceptibly wider, "because there is no hole to find."

"What do you mean?! No hole? How is that possible? What do you mean no hole?" The captain was stammering frightfully.

"No need to repeat yourself, I simply mean that our friend Derrl's work held up well. Quite well indeed."

The storm clouds and the wind had retreated, leaving a pleasant breeze that pointed astern of them, in the direction of the Honite reef. Yerril leaned against the railing and looked back the way they had come, gazing thoughtfully one moment, staring slack jawed the next. As Derrl moved to ask him what the matter was, he, too, saw it. Two neat rows of coral, sticking out of the water parallel to each other, with a gap, gentle, ocean swells the only thing between them. Kevesk stood grinning like a half-mad idiot.

"You, my friends, have quite literally carved out a new passage through that reef."

Yerril grinned, showing a few missing teeth. The wind had since shifted and was once more blowing the length of the ship from stern to bow. "Ho! Me buckos, we'll be putting her on a windward tack now!" He bellowed his orders out to the crew. Kevesk placed a hand on the captain's shoulder and grinned.

"Why put her on a tack, when we can put the wind behind us? You forget, we have two mages at our disposal who can manipulate the wind. You may travel any which way you wish with the wind at your back.

"The winds are at your, and your ship's disposal while we are on board. Suffice to tell me which port you wish to reach and we shall make all speed toward it."

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