13th Voyage

46 - The Storm Breaks

The tale of the folly of corsairs and wind wizards.

Barbafir Bloodmouth’s three wives continue shouting at him, but the venturers note that the Typhoon Queen is closing swiftly. Attsu climbs up the mast and into the rigging, shifting into a battle-ready feline form. The enemy ship draws near enough that the venturers can get a better look at the crew. The sorcerer-captain Khalit the Wind Slaver is a young woman with a shaven head, conjuring wind from a great bronze pot set on the deck and sending it into the sails; her helmsman, a young man with a bandolier of knives, looks enough like her that the two must be siblings. At the prow of the ship, an elven man with a flame brand across his face loads a bolt from a yellow quiver into a crossbow.

Khalit pulls another gale out of the pot, and sends this one into the Fang of the Shaitan’s rigging. The blast drives Barbafir’s ship towards the Twist of Fate. Aya counters by conjuring a wind of her own, averting the collision although the two ships scrape together. The two continue to circle the whirlpool, the Izir aeromancer ship in close pursuit.

The elven mageslayer aboard the Typhoon Queen fires a bolt into Aya’s side, and the genasi feels the sting of numbing venom. Notch sends an arrow back at the elf with a curse.

Tairasha calls out to Aya, asking her to slow down the Twist of Fate. She complies without hesitation, bringing down a headwind that slows their ship to a crawl. The Typhoon Queen quickly tacks to one side to avoid the sudden collision, passing close by the Twist of Fate, and Attsu takes the opportunity to leap from one ship to the next. He doesn’t quite make the full distance, but he latches on to the outer hull of the Izir ship and begins to climb upward.

Aya lets the winds return to their courses and throws a bolt of chain lightning at the enemy ship’s prow, electrocuting several of the Typhoon Queen marines. She then draws on the power of the bird maiden cloak to transform her arms into wings and fly over to the enemy ship, landing by the helm. Attsu finishes his climb and vaults the rail, diving into the Izir forces with claws extended. Wind-of-Embers throws a bolt of fire at the crossbow-wielding elf, and sees part of the flame drawn away and absorbed by a gemstone implanted in his next. He fires his next shot at her, as she retaliates with elven swiftness.

The fight aboard the Typhoon Queen breaks out in earnest as several of the fighting sailors try to pin down Aya. The helmsman draws a knife and lunges at Attsu, but his expert bladework fails to carve an opening in Attsu’s armor — possibly because he still has to keep one hand on the ship’s wheel.

Aya, face-to-face with Khalit, invokes her orb of storms to blast the Izir aeromancer backwards. Khalit manages to catch hold of rigging to keep herself from tumbling entirely off the ship’s deck, and although one of Notch’s arrows creases her arm, she throws a porcelain flask back at Aya. The flask breaks on the deck, unleashing an air elemental the size of a grown orc.

Wind-of-Embers gains the upper hand in her duel with the mageslayer. A final firebolt overloads the stone embedded in his skin, and it explodes, taking out most of his neck with it. At the same time, Attsu slices apart the helmsman, leaving a severed hand still clutching the wheel.

Khalit surges back into the battle with a vengeful fury. Even with one of Notch’s numbing yellow-quiver arrows hampering her spellcasting ability, she sinks her glass dagger into Aya, the softest target available. Aya steps back, one hand on her wound, and calls an icy wind to draw the strength from the Izir mage’s limbs. Then Attsu turns his attention to her. He sinks his burning firebrass talons into her, and tucks into a roll. He releases her at the end of the roll, launching her limp form over the ship’s rail and into the sea.

With the sorcerer-captain gone and her two strongest dead, the remaining Typhoon Queen crew loses their fighting spirit. Many of them drop their weapons and make to surrender. Wind-of-Embers calls a healing prayer across the gap between the two ships, sealing Aya’s dagger wound. A quick glance to the horizon shows that the flagship of Unnat al-Shim, the Leviathan Crown, is still a distance away yet closing. And two new ships have appeared on the horizon — by all appearances, the Izir illusionist-captain’s Phantasm, pursued by the familiar Thunder Star.

Then the marid arrives. Shahzada Warralash the Engulfing, jade skin slick and salt in his topknot, rises from the whirlpool like a giant. In one hand he holds the bedraggled corpse of Khalit the Wind Slaver, and he demands to know who is littering the waters about his home. When Aya tells him that she planned to bind him, and that they threw her overboard to halt her foolish ambition, the perturbed jinn hurls her corpse into the rigging of her ship, where it dangles from a shroud.

Even as the venturers attempt to placate the marid, Barbafir Bloodmouth’s Fang of the Shaitan draws near. On the side facing the whirlpool, Barbafir clutches the rail with white knuckles. By his side, the binder-wizard — face pale but with Notch’s arrow removed — holds the double mirror genie prison and focuses his gaze on Shahzada Warralash.

Fortune smiles on the venturers as Shahzada Warralash recognizes Aya and allows himself to be placated by her diplomatic overtures. She warns him of the approaching enemies, and the marid listens. His eyes on the approaching Fang of the Shaitan, Attsu prudently rips free one of the ship-to-ship weapons of the Typhoon Queen — a chakram-thrower like a small ballista.

When Barbafir’s ship pulls into the currents, circling the whirlpool near the Twist of Fate, the corsair calls out to the marid. He displays the Crocodile Jewel, and offers a business proposition. Yet those aboard the Twist of Fate will have none of it. Wind-of-Embers hurls a fire javelin at Barbafir’s hired mage, and Notch sends an arrow after it that narrowly misses. The binder wizard scowls and activates the Twofold Mirror of Jandu Al-Palash. Light plays off the polished bronze, flickering across Warralash’s face. The marid seems hypnotized by the light, and as he reaches out for the Fang of the Shaitan, his hand begins to transform into water that spirals like a serpent towards the jinn prison.

Aya and Attsu take action immediately. She throws a powerful gale bolt at the binder, and Attsu fires a chakram at the man. Neither missile slays him, but his concentration is broken, and the Twofold Mirror slips from one hand.

The glazed look leaves Shahzada Warralash’s eyes, and is replaced with fury. He raises his arm, reforming his and, and brings down a knife-edged chop that smashes through the deck and hull of the Fang of the Shaitan, nearly bisecting the corsair ship. Barbafir’s crew scream and desperately clutch to what they can as the gravely wounded ship begins to sink, now drawn into the currents leading to the depths of the Eye of Hunger.

Wind-of-Embers raises her voice, calling out ot the marid. She implores the shahzada to show mercy to Barbafir, on behalf of his three wives who will soon be widows.

Shahzada Warralash the Engulfing pauses, and looks Wind-of-Embers in the eye. “I free them from their folly,” he rumbles. Then he folds his arms, and sinks back into the heart of the whirlpool.

The Typhoon Queen desperately attempts to steer clear of the Eye of Hunger’s currents, as the Twist of Fate keeps pace with the sinking Fang of the Shaitan. Kismet leaps to the prow of her ship, readying to dive in and, if Fate and the Dolphin Stone protect her, retrieve Barbafir or at least his Zodiac Jewel. And the Leviathan Crown draws nearer, carrying one of the Uncrowned of Izir, with his surviving lieutenant’s Phantasm making to join his master before the Thunder Star can prevent it. In moments such as these, Fate is said to hold her breath.

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