The wicked heroine, p.53
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       The Wicked Heroine, p.53

           Jasmine Giacomo

  Chapter Twenty-three

  The weeks passed. Geret and Salvor dueled regularly, managing to set aside their egos for a little while every few days.

  Captain Galanishav took a shine to Meena; now and again he strolled the upper deck with her, deep in conversation. She learned from him that each of the nine great masts on the Kazhak were named for different deities. The foremast was named for Cingor, king of the Kazhbor wind gods. The next two masts, set across from each other to port and starboard, were named for his twin wives: Talya, the homeward wind, and Temya, the outbound wind. The other six masts were named for their children, each controlling a different aspect of wind.

  “It was Temya,” the captain confessed, as he strolled with Meena one day in the humid spring air, “who drew me to the sea. Who draws me still. The unknown is the greatest wonder and mystery, and my soul is hers to command. Even its danger fascinates me. Which minds me, I should forewarn you: the Kazhak will begin his defensive nocturnal measures tonight.”

  “What measures?” Meena asked.

  “The moon is nearing fullness,” Galanishav said, stroking his sandy beard and gazing up at the blue sky. “We fire black powder from our cannons during the nights of the moon’s brightest week.”

  “It is that time of year, isn’t it?” Meena agreed. “Mating season. They feed under the moonlight to keep their strength up.”

  Galanishav’s eyebrows rose. “You know the Deep Ones?”

  “Not personally. I haven’t been that unlucky yet.” She smiled, and Galanishav chuckled. “Have you ever seen a Deep One?” she asked.

  “But once. A day out of Salience Harbor in Hynd. It was spring then also. A large wave rocked our ship, an eighty-foot schooner, and the lookout spotted an enormous form breaking the water’s surface. The creature had risen from the depths and was swimming swiftly toward land. I know not why; the moon was not even remotely full that night. One swift flap of its appendages beside our ship nearly capsized us. Two crewmen fell overboard. We feared our deaths were at hand that night, but the great beast passed us by.” Galanishav took a thoughtful breath. “I am not sure they are as bloodthirsty as the legends say.”

  “Legends are often misleading,” Meena agreed, nodding.

  That night, the cannons boomed out every twenty minutes, all night long. Meena snuggled into her large feather bed, comforted by the sound. It had been many years since she’d heard it, and she dreamed of Hawill.

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