|Chapter 12: Sea-Harm|
Cail's arm caught her waist like a band of stone. His mouth came to her ear. "Seek shelter!" The wind ripped the words to pieces, making his shout barely audible.
She shook her head urgently, tried to drive her voice through the blow. "Take me to the wheeldeck!"
He hesitated for a moment while he cast a look about him, estimating the dangers. Then he swung her up the stairs.
She felt like a ragdoll in his grasp. If he had been any ordinary man, they would both have been slashed overboard. But he was an Haruchai. Surging across the weight of the wind, he bore her to the wheeldeck.
Only three Giants were there: Honninscrave, Galewrath, and the First. The Storesmaster stood at the great wheel, embracing it with both arms. Her muscles were knotted under the strain; her feet were widely planted to brace herself. She looked like a granite monolith, capable of standing there and mastering Shipsheartthew until the sea and time broke Starfare's Gem into rubble.
Anchored by her weight and strength, the First remained still. The Search was out of her hands. Under these conditions, it belonged to the storm--and to Starfare's Gem. And the dromond belonged to Honninscrave.
He stood near Galewrath; but all his attention was focused forward like a beacon, burning for the safety of his ship. The bony mass of his brows seemed to protect his sight. He bore himself as if he could see everything. His trenchant bellow pierced the wind. And the Giants responded like a manifestation of his will. Step by arduous step, they fought sheets and shrouds and canvas, tuned Starfare's Gem to endure the peril.
Linden tried to shout; but the wind struck her in the teeth, stuffed her voice back down her throat. With a fervid gesture, she directed Cail toward the Master.
"Honninscrave!" She had to scream to make herself heard. "Change course! We're running right into the storm!"
The import of her words snatched at his attention. Bending over her, he shouted, "That cannot be! This storm rises from the south! Riding as we do, we shall remain on its verge and be driven only scantly from our path!"
The south? She gaped at him, disbelieving that he could be wrong about such a thing. When she forced her vision in that direction, she saw he was not wrong. Her senses plainly discerned a cusp of violence there, though it was several leagues distant. Honninscrave's present course would carry Starfare's Gem around the fierce core of that storm.
But a look toward the northwest verified what she had seen earlier. A hurricane crouched there, titanic and monstrous. The two storms were crowding together, with Starfare's Gem between them. Every heave and crash of the dromond's keel angled it closer to the savagery of the stronger blast.
With a cry that seemed to tear her throat, she told Honninscrave what she saw.