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."TURN TOWARDS THEM!" Miya yelled, even before she got up."TOWARDS CHICKEN!"They shot through the water, despite the damage to the sails, close enough to the enemy ship almost to hear the jeers and taunts of the crew.Miya stood against the railing, leaning out as far as she could, hurling abuse at them."BASTARDS! YOU BASTARDS! I'M GONNA COME BACK AND MAKE YOU EAT YOUR OWN FIRESHOT YOU SHIP-MUTILATING SCUM! YOU'RE GONNA PAY FOR BREAKING MY SHIP!"In response, chicken fired another broadside salvo, but the Black Swan was too far past by a long margin."THAT WAS NEVER GONNA HIT US! HAH! YOU LOSE, LOSERS!"Miya laughed hard and loud at the chicken, then turned her head, narrowing her eyes as she ran to the opposite railing.Rabbit was too far away to hit them with anything now—they still tried, a final broadside falling embarrassingly short, but then they were free of both ships and through, wounded but alive."They won't catch us now."Sola turned away from looking up at the damaged sails to look at Miya.She was standing, watching the two ships they'd just outsailed, her hair a mess—at some point her bandanna had come off, and in several places her hair was singed from fighting the fires in the rigging.She had numerous scrapes and small cuts over her arms and on her face, and her clothes and skin were blackened and dirty.Her shirt was white no longer, bloodied and blackened and ripped, missing one sleeve entirely, and the previously clean bandage around her shoulder was beginning to come undone.As Miya absently raised a hand to touch a burn on her cheek, Sola noticed that her hands were red and burnt from beating at flames.Miya turned to look at Sola, shrugged one shoulder with a helpless little smile, then she turned to pull herself back up into the rigging.Sola took the wheel once more, watching his sister carefully as she trimmed what remained of the sails—her actions were stiff and slightly awkward, in stark contrast to the usual grace and ease with which she enthusiastically leapt around the rigging.After she'd finished tying down the loose sail, and had made sure everything was as good as it was going to get, Miya dropped down onto the deck, walked to the bow of the ship, and looked back up at the damaged mast.She stood there for a long moment, her expression blank, then she collapsed to her knees, face buried in her hands, sobbing her heart out.*The pursuing ships had quickly broken off the chase, most likely after realising that even with only half her sails the Black Swan could easily outsail them.Miya sat at the bow, legs dangling over the edge, one on each side of the bowsprit, staring out ahead, two clean lines down her blackened face the only sign that she'd been crying."We need to get the sails repaired," she said flatly, as Sola tentatively approached her."Do you have the supplies on board?""No.""Then we should consult the chart, find an island nearby where we can get them."Miya sighed, long and shuddering and heartfelt."No need," she said, not sounding happy."I already know where we can go."Sola looked at her."Where?""A terrible place.Maybe the worst island in the Necessary Ocean."Sola thought of Biscuit Island and the dirty, dangerous port there."Is it really so bad?""It's really so bad.""Why?"Miya sighed again, a small, defeated sigh.Then she said, with all the distaste and contempt a fourteen year-old girl could force into her voice:"It has balls."9Not Just A PirateThe sun was a finger above the horizon, Sola was at the wheel, what sails they had left were trimmed as well as they could be, and Miya was sulking, this time with her legs dangling over the stern of the ship, looking back at the setting sun."Is this Embassy Island really so bad?" Sola asked."It could not be worse than Biscuit Cove, or that blockade we just escaped.Nobody here will be trying to kidnap or kill you, correct?""It's not the same," said Miya, sulkily.She chewed her lip for a moment, then turned, looking back at Sola."You know how you felt, like around people on Clover Island? People you didn't know?"Sola nodded."Even though you knew they weren't, y'know, bad people, that they'd probably be friendly and that?"Sola nodded again."Imagine feeling like that except knowing that the people hate you, or treat you like a silly little toy, or at best think nothing of you—I mean don't even really recognise that you exist, just think that you're completely worthless and totally insignificant.That they'll take every opportunity to talk you down, to show how damned superior they are to you, and they're smiling the whole blasted time."Sola considered this for several seconds."Ah," he said."Yeah, 'ah'.""But you're a princess.Surely—""Not to them.To them I'm just some, I don't know, a dirty little sea rat from some island nobody cares about."Sola was silent a moment."I don't quite understand," he said."I wish that I didn't." Miya sighed."Mum's from the Highland originally.She was the princess of Brightburn.It's not a big kingdom but it's kind of important for some reason, I don't really get the politics of it all.Maybe because it's one of the older ones? Anyway, Mum was a perfect princess, EVERYONE loved her.She did everything right and was kind and generous and said all the perfect princess things to say and could wear dresses without looking like a little boy playing dress-up—"Miya glanced at Sola then scowled just a little, embarrassed."Um, anyway, she was set to marry some prince—that's how they do things over there, everything's all organised, you don't get to choose anything if you're a princess, except maybe sometimes what clothes you'll wear, if it's not a special occasion.I don't know which prince, but I think he was probably from one of the big important kingdoms, Feldspar maybe, or Silverdale.Anyway, that's when Dad came into the picture." Miya grinned."She'd NEVER met anyone like him.I don't know the details but basically he just swept her off her feet, showed her a world she'd only ever read about in books before, except so much more exciting—actually, Mum told me once that even the books she read were censored, some of them had whole pages ripped out, can you imagine?"Sola's face darkened [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]