All three ran.
Alathea leaped from deck to shuddering deck, her eyes scanning as far as she could for that three-masted ship with triangular sails. She launched herself from the rails of ships, grappled with rigging lines, and rolled into her landings, rising with a laugh.
Talon darted through spaces and hesitated before every jump. His eyes shot from boat to boat on the horizon, searching out his quarry.
Matt lumbered through space, eyes narrowed in the gloom. Every time he landed on a new deck, his curved blades appeared.
The wall of fire remained in the distance to their left. As they advanced, the smell of wax and burning flesh increased. After half an hour of searching, Alathea called a halt. “Catch your breath.”
All three sighed as they crouched on the upper deck of a single-masted ship. Below them an open hatch yawned to a lower deck, dark and foreboding.
“Think you could be a little bit quieter?” Talon wrinkled his nose. “Your laughing’s got to be alerting whoever lit that fire.”
Alathea’s mirth crowded into her voice. “Do you really think my laughter is louder than the groaning of the boats? Listen to that clatter. No one more than ten paces away could hear me.” She scanned the horizon. “And I don’t think there’s many people near here. If anyone survived these wrecks, they’ve moved on to other parts of the graveyard.”
Matt growled, “Don’t be so sure of yourself.” He took a defensive stance.
Next to them, resting in the humid air, a vessel with two rows of cannons belowdecks loomed closer as it shifted. A dark form stood on the topmost deck, peering down at them. “You’re new,” a guttural voice intoned.
Alathea flicked a hand at her companions to remain quiet. “We fell.”
The figure rumbled a laugh. “Yes. We all fell.”
“We were looking for someone when we came to the edge. Pellina the Bright. Did she fall, too?”
“I know of no Pellina, but many fall and the graveyard is large. Now, if you’d like to stay alive, I suggest you tell your slave to put down his swords.”
Alathea’s voice became cold. “He is no slave.”
“Doesn’t matter, really. Twenty men have surrounded the boat you’re standing on. We have arrows aimed at you.”
“I’m not partial to dying outside the reach of the gods.” Talon’s eyes darted to the surrounding ships. “I can see some of them.”
“You’re not outside the reach of my God.” Alathea’s calm voice whispered to her companions. “These people have lived without the sun since they fell. I think it’s time for some light. Boys, you may want to close your eyes.” She crossed her arms at the wrists before her. “My God is the light of the world!” she announced.
An orb of pure white light flashed above her, striking like lightning. It illumined the area like a beacon, piercing through tattered sails and skin. Voices screamed.
And just as quickly darkness fell.
“Go,” she told her companions.
Talon and Matt vanished into the sudden twilight. The battle was joined.
Another fifteen minutes of writing with Alathea… Soon enough I’ll put together an index page so each story is in order and just a click away.
Thus continues The Graveyard at the Bottom of the World.