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.Dawson, too, was more than a little afraid of this course that would bring them so close to Whatever was destroying a great warship so efficiently, but when he glanced behind, he saw the two Palmaristown ships in full pursuit.To stop or even turn was to fight them; to fight them was surely to die.“Powries.” The almost breathless call came from a crewman working hard at the rigging at the bow.“Powries?” Cormack echoed beside Dawson.Cormack and Milkeila chased him to the rail.In the distance they saw the rounded wood and the small conning tower of a strange craft, her barrellike shape and terrible ram smashing through a swell before settling into the dark water.Blood drained from Dawson’s face, and a million thoughts swirled in his mind as he finally came upon a desperate plan: Join with the Palmaristown ships against the even more ruthless powrie enemy.______Yach, but we’re takin’ her down, Gwydre’s boat or no!” Captain Shiknickel cried.“ ’E’s wearing a powrie cap, he is! Double-time left!”As calls for the righthand turn echoed the length, Mcwigik’s eyes opened wide.“A powrie cap?” he mouthed.Gulping hard, he shoved his way back to the short tower to stand beside Shiknickel.Below, the dwarves shouted and sang of getting to ramming speed, of dipping their berets in the blood of men.Shiknickel’s call of “Hold yer feet!” stopped them cold.Shoot it dead!” one man cried, but Dawson held his hand to belay that order and to keep everyone calm as they stared at the powrie barrel boat, nearly stopped and splashing in the rough waters barely thirty yards off Lady Dreamer’s starboard bow.A red-bearded dwarf crawled from the conning tower, holding it fast as he settled his feet on the concave deck, waves rolling over the wood.“Mcwigik,” Cormack and Milkeila said in unison before Dawson could mutter the same.“Yach, ye dogs, and know yer good deed’s not been forgotten,” the dwarf hailed them as Lady Dreamer fast closed on the barrel boat.“Ye keep on running with yer partner there, and we’ll be giving a good poke to them two that’re chasing ye, not to worry.”Dawson swallowed hard and looked to his companions.“Good Mcwigik, and the best to yer kin!” Cormack yelled, taking the cue and moving up beside Dawson.“Aye, and Bikelbrin’s below!” the dwarf replied.“How many boats have you?” Cormack called.“More than a few, and good ones.Ye wanting them’s wearing that flag as them’s chasing ye put to the bottom? Hope ye do, because that’s where they’re going, don’t ye doubt!”“You will let the ships under the flag of Dame Gwydre pass?” Milkeila dared to ask.“Aye, a debt repaid, and fun repaying!”Mcwigik gave a great laugh then as Lady Dreamer glided past, a chuckle filled with such wickedness that Dawson, Cormack, and Milkeila were glad to have him on their side.“We should tell them to be gone from the gulf,” Cormack said quietly to Dawson.“Aye, but that’s giving the waters to Panlamaris, now ain’t it?” the older Vanguard sailor replied.Ahead, the Palmaristown ship keeled over, dropping sailors into the cold waters.Like sharks, a trio of powrie boats rushed the scene, dwarves scrambling on the decks, serrated knives in hand.Dawson and the others on Lady Dreamer watched in revulsion as one poor woman was hauled up by the hair onto the side of the powrie boat, her throat quickly slashed open.Powries swarmed over her, slapping with their berets.The three on Lady Dreamer glanced back to the boat carrying Mcwigik, already pedaling fast to the south to intercept the Palmaristown ships.“Weren’t a thing we could do to stop them, anyway,” Dawson mumbled.Given the carnage just ahead, his justification rang hollow even to him.“Every choice we make, every battle we fight, takes a piece of my soul,” Cormack said and leaned heavily on the rail.Lady Dreamer and Shelligan’s Run continued to the northeast under full sail for a long time, long after the two ships giving chase broke apart under powrie rams, long after the screams of more Palmaristown men and women rent the early spring air, long after the remaining Palmaristown ships, hugging the coast, turned and fled west [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]