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|The enemy assault from the south strikes the Marine Tower.||
At the Marine Tower
Simon could see the rowers straining at the oars. The merchantman was at maximum speed, attempting to cover the killing zone as swiftly as possible. The marines were firing their crossbows and taking a terrible toll. Yet the ship approached rapidly. Such was their desperation to exact as much speed as possible that they had left the sail unfurled, catching what wind was available. Simon smiled, pointed his finger at the ship, and closed his eyes. A tendril of smoke rose from a nearby brazier and curled itself around his hand, becoming denser and darker as it seemed to congregate at the tip of his finger. Simon opened his eyes and the wind howled forth...
The sail snapped its ties as it swung round to meet the gale force wind. A terrible "Crack!" erupted from the vessel as it shuddered to a halt. Soldiers were thrown overboard to flail and sink into the water's depths. The ship listed and started to drift towards the shallows. The marines continued to pepper it with quarrels...
Donna-Maria entered the marine's tower with her escort. Ascending the stairs she quickly surveyed the scene. The lead ship had been disabled and was drifting - the marines must have slain the steersman. It had run aground in the shoals. The second ship was starting its approach to the tower. Several marines lay dead and dying on the battlements. Donna-Maria raised her arms to the heavens and began to chant. A roiling cloud began to form over the disabled ship. Cries of pain became cries of terror. The marines backed away from the battlement, watching. Donna-Maria shouted, clapped her hands together, and the roiling cloud broke to reveal an intense light. The heat was extraordinarily intense and everyone ducked for cover behind the battlements. Those below had nowhere to go. The ship exploded into a conflagration as it was struck...
"Putain!", shouted Simon as the fireball struck the disabled ship. The heatwave roared through the arrow slit. A marine stuck his head close to see what had happened. "The ship is on fire! It's even burning below the water line!", he said, before an arrow took him and sent him clattering across the floor.
Magic fire? Who could have created such a conflagration? Time enough for that thought later. "Give them what they expect and they will believe...", Simon thought to himself as smoke from the wreckage drifted across the path of the incoming vessel. The third vessel had turned and was following in the wake of the second. Simon drew the smoke together, closed his eyes, and saw in his mind's eye a roiling mass of billowing black smoke and intense flames. Arcs of lightning played over the surface of the smoke. Simon unfolded his image upon the canvas of smoke that lay between the ship and the fort. If the ship continued on its path it would sail through the illusion. Simon felt confident that after seeing the fate of the first ship the crew of the second would be fairly keen to avoid what looked like certain death.
Caught between the chains and the firewall the second ship desperately attempted to back the oars. The third ship attempted to avoid ramming the second, forcing them to turn downstream. The current took them, adding its momentum to their southward journey. Simon noted the Duchess of Berri's flag upon the mast. An unlikely association. The second ship started to drift towards the shoals as it was also forced to turn with the current. As it neared the tower its sail burst into flame, sheets of burning canvas dropping onto the crew below. The marines continued to shoot volley after volley of quarrels into the massed soldiers on the deck. Many leapt overboard in a vain attempt to escape their fate. The burning ship, now abandoned, slowly drifted downstream.
At Saint Christophe
Tahrik led the way towards Saint Christophe. He clattered across the bridge and galloped towards the church. The battle was underway and time was of the essence. Charging around the church in a wide arc there was no inbound fire. He came to a halt outside the crypt entrance and waved to the others on the bridge. They trotted towards the crypt.
At the South Gate
Donna-Maria returned to the Queen's side. "All freshened up my dear Comptesse?", asked the Queen sleepily as she reclined on a comfortable chair, her head pillowed, an Imperial holding a parasol to protect her from the sun. A delicate snore soon followed as the Queen began to sleep off the effects of the all-night party.
Note: For explanations regarding the world in which this story is set, it's peoples and language please take a look at The Encyclopaedia of Everything located in my library.
|Chapter 14: Beastmen Take Their Toll||Chapter 22: The Eve of Battle|
|Chapter 38: The Prince Arrives||Chapter 1: A Cold Beginning|
|Chapter 13: The Shadow Plane||Chapter 35: The Chains are Tested|