PART II: FIVE YEARS LATER
Captain Arik Yannsen looked through his spyglass at the approaching Andosan fleet. He counted ten ships of the line, one frigate, two corvettes, and one fireship. He waited for orders from Admiral Hoffman, who was on board the Valiant, the only ship in the fleet with three Wavecalmers. A spell cast by the Wavecalmers would allow the Admiral to give orders to the captains of the entire fleet with his voice, without having to use flags.
"Line-ahead!" Admiral Hoffman's voice said. Captain Yannsen repeated the command to his crew, and the Sea Dragon moved into line. Arik could see the Queen Magra ahead of him. Through his telescope, he could see that the Andosan ships had formed a line-ahead as well.
"Bring on storm!" ordered Admiral Hoffmen.
Arik turned to Grimburg, who was standing next to him in the bow. "Can you feel the weather?"
"Aye, Captain," said Grimburg.
Relieved, Arik said, "Then bring on storm."
"Aye, Captain," Grimburg said again. She folded her arms and frowned at the enemy fleet. Arik knew that on every ship of the Yarlish fleet, the Wavecalmer was facing the Andosans, concentrating hard.
Clouds began swirling in the sky over the Andosan fleet. The ships began to pitch and yaw as the ocean beneath them grew rougher. The sky above the enemy grew darker and darker as the cloud cover thickened. Thunder rumbled in the distance, and a streak of lightning lanced down from a particularly black cloud. With his spyglass, Arik noticed men and women standing in the bows, looking steadily at the Yarlish ships. Arik looked up and saw dark clouds forming overhead. So, the Andosans had Wavecalmers of their own. An unwelcome fact, but not unexpected.
"Reef the mainsail!" commanded Arik. "Storm jib!" The sailors rushed to obey as a clap of thunder sounded. The wind blew hard enough that several men were staggering, the sails billowed, and the rolling of the ship intensified. Lightning flashed, and the thunder grew louder as the sailors climbed into the rigging to adjust the sails. And then the rain came down in torrents.
It was the kind of storm that was common in summer in the tropics, not a hurricane, but violent enough. The wind blew the rain into everyone's faces, and the ship charged through the high, tumbling waves, creaking loudly. A wave washed across the deck, prompting cries from the crew. The rain was so thick that Arik could no longer see the Andosan fleet; water ran down the lens of his spyglass. He shut up the telescope and waited for Admiral Hoffman's orders as the rain soaked through his uniform.
"Bring on calm!" ordered Admiral Hoffman's voice. "Bring on calm!" Through the pounding rain, Arik saw Grimburg looking up at the sky. In about a minute, the rain subsided, although thunder still boomed. Gradually, the ocean became calmer. Arik saw the waves calm beneath the Andosan fleet too, and the sky clear up above the enemy. The Wavecalmers on the enemy ships had obviously brought on a calm as well.
"The Andosan Wavecalmers must be as skilled as our own," Grimburg panted. Bringing on a storm or a calm always tired her out, Arik knew.
"Aye," said Arik. "We'll have to fight them with our guns and hope that's enough. Ready cannons!"
The gun crews rushed towards the cannons on the gun deck, the forecastle, and the quarterdeck. Fortunately, the gunpowder would still be dry; Grimburg's spell worked well.
"Line across!" called Hoffman.
The enemy fleet was trying to line up in front of the Yarlish fleet, but the Yarlish ships were faster. The ships veered hard to port and sailed into a line in front of the Andosan ships. When the line was formed, Grimburg muttered the far-shooting spell, which would allow the cannons to hit ships from far away, even ships in the middle or back of the line.
"Fire!" Admiral Hoffman said.
The cannons discharged all at once. The Andosan ship at the front of the line took two hits: the explosions blew holes in its bow. Another ship's sails collapsed onto the deck, while a third took a hit to its broadside.
"Fire!" Hoffman called again. Again, the cannons discharged, and the cannonballs exploded among the Andosan ships. Now, several ships were burning and sinking, including the one at the front of the line. At the same time, Arik heard a boom and a sound of splintering wood. He whirled around and saw two of the ships behind him with holes in their bows. He saw water flowing in through the breaches as the ships began to sink. Luckily, the Valiant was still intact.
"Board!" Hoffman said. Immediately, the sailors picked up cutlasses and muskets. Grimburg said the boarding spell, and most of the sailors disappeared. Arik knew Grimburg had transported them to the decks of the Andosan ships. He looked through the telescope and saw the Yarlish sailors engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the Andosan ones. Some people stabbed their enemies with bayonets, while others slashed at them with cutlasses. Corpses from both countries fell into the ocean or lay on the decks.
Suddenly, Arik heard cries of pain and dying groans behind him. Turning around, he saw men and women in Andosan uniforms battling his own crew. Already, many of his sailors lay bleeding on the decks. Grimburg stood with her eyes closed, muttering, and Andosan sailors collapsed without wounds. Arik picked up his musket and aimed at an Andosan woman aiming for him. He heard the crack of a gunshot and felt a burning pain in his leg. He could not stop himself from collapsing. Just as he did, he heard a magically-magnified voice.
"This is Admiral Romaro," a voice said in heavily-accented Yarlish. "I surrender my fleet to you."
Arik smiled triumphantly, just before everything went black.
When Arik came to himself, he was lying on his bed with his breeches off and his shirt rolled up. Dr. Ahler and Grimburg were leaning over him. The pain was still in his leg, sharp enough that he had to bite his lip.
"Give him a potion for the pain while I remove the bullet," Dr. Ahler said. Grimburg held a cup of some foul-smelling substance to Arik's lips. Arik drank and nearly choked: the potion tasted like rotten potatoes. Right away, a numbness overtook him; the pain was gone.
"I heard Admiral Romaro surrender," Arik said, his eyelids growing heavy.
Dr. Ahler nodded. "A complete victory: we destroyed six of the Andosan ships and captured eight."
The victory was even more complete than Arik hoped. "And our losses?"
"105 crew members," said Grimburg. "All our officers escaped."
"How many ships were lost?" asked Arik.
"She escaped, with the loss of 327 crew members. The first mate and one of the Wavecalmers were killed, and the captain was wounded."
"He survived," said Dr. Ahler. He held up a bullet. "This was in your leg. You were lucky you weren't shot in the heart."
"I was," Arik agreed. The Yarlish fleet had been lucky as well, though their victory was due not so much to luck as to faster ships, better guns, and more powerful spells. Arik felt his heart swell with triumph and pride. One day, Yarland would wrest control of the Andosan colonies from Andosa. One day, Yarland would be the undisputed master of the world.