Orion was talking with the captain when Kan approached him.
“...and now I’m going to safely take the ship out of here,” he was saying when he noticed Kangassk. “Is something wrong, Kan? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Orion, I…” Kangassk hesitated. Ignis’s curious snout peeked out of his pocket; Kan promptly tucked it back in.
“Let me guess: forebodings again?” There was not even a hint of a joke in Orion’s voice.
“Captain,” he turned to Ptarmika, “keep your crew alert and ready for a fight. We’re not safe yet.”
“Who is this pup of yours?” the captain sniffed; a stinky cloud of acrid zigarella smoke moved in Kan’s direction.
“A professional soothsayer with an open license,” explained Orion. “Also, my friend. He knows what he’s saying, captain. We must stay alert.”
A buzzing chorus of grumbling, cursing, and complaining voices reigned on Black Manta’s deck. No surprise: the crew had to deal with the stranded ship now and was not happy about it. But as long as they did their job, Sumah didn’t mind the noise. Also, he hadn’t lost yet, no, not at all. Things were just going to follow plan B now and become way more interesting.
The young man with the strange - handguardless - sword approached Sumah. The pirate captain greeted him with a smile.
“Well it’s your time to shine, Orion,” he said.
Soon, Orion’s team boarded a little catamaran named Black Dogfish that Sumah’s ship kept hidden in its belly. Black Dogfish was small, way smaller than Uvel but carried twice more people; in fact, she carried nothing but people, their weapons, and a decent amount of fuel for her engine.
Standing on the careened deck of his ship’s central hull, the pale pirate watched Orion’s team depart and disappear in the fog. The emerald ship’s crew wouldn’t know what hit them…
“This is an evil night, my boy, an evil night…” muttered Usef after he stepped out of the fog with a lantern in his hand and bumped into Kangassk.
Kan silently nodded in agreement. He could not speak and gasped for air like a little fish thrown out of the sea. The terror of foreboding, unmistakable now, was tearing at his very soul. He sat on the deck, shaking all over, hoping that no sailor would find him like this - but he was glad to see Usef. The presence of that ever-smiling man was reassuring for some reason.
Usef sat beside Kangassk, right on the boards, and set the lantern between them. There was nothing to fear from this lantern; it carried no oil that could spill and set the deck ablaze, no, its light source was a swarm of fireflies trapped in a glass jar. Their light, yellow and cosy, and the soft sounds of their fluttering wings made Kan feel even better. He managed to take a couple of deep breaths right before he heard the silence explode once again…
The young human named Orion carefully steered Black Dogfish between the rocks. He had no gift of night vision, unlike Sumah, so he relied on memory instead and moved forward very slowly using only the top sails that caught the wind above the fog. Black Dogfish, being far smaller than Uvel, could take a narrower but shorter route through the labyrinth. It was risky, of course, but well worth the effort in the end when Orion’s interceptor catamaran successfully caught up with the emerald ship and opened fire from all her starboard cannons…
"Staring at the light blinds you to the night", as the saying goes.
Kangassk saw no ship in the fog but - thanks to the cold obsidian! - he did grab Usef and drop to the deck a split second before the cannons had fired. One of the cannonballs swished right above their heads and showered them with splinters as it met the central mast.
The first round of fire dealt a lot of damage, the second - not so much; Orion reacted quickly and turned Uvel’s armoured side to the attacker. Meanwhile, Ptarmika rallied the terrified sailors and made them return the fire. The commotion of the battle separated Kan and Usef; each of the two rushed to his own station through fog, smoke, and swarms of fireflies flying away from their broken lanterns like Ziga’s victims’ souls once flew away from their sinking ship.
There was not much room for manoeuvre among the rocks, so a short race that had followed the initial fire exchange ended quickly. It lasted just enough time for Kangassk to replace a wounded sailor at the cannon, load a cannonball, cover his ears against the deafening sound, and get yelled at by the cannon gunner: with the interceptor getting closer it was time to switch from cannonballs to grapeshots. They managed to shoot only one round of those before boarding hooks started flying and a wave of intruders drowned Uvel’s deck. There were so many!
So many, indeed… The boarding party Sumah had sent with his favourite apprentice was at least twice the size of Uvel’s whole crew.
Paypal no longer works in my country, so I can't get money from Ko-fi, Gumroad, and ComicAd.
But now I have good news!
Patreon still works! And I've replaced Ko-fi with Buymeacoffee! that works with Payoneer instead of Paypal. You can even buy my books there now. Boosty still works as well. It accepts Paypal and all cards.