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Red Seas Under Red Skies (The Gentleman Bastard Sequence) by Lynch Scott

Red Seas Under Red Skies (The Gentleman Bastard Sequence) by Lynch Scott

Author:Lynch, Scott [Lynch, Scott]
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Publisher: Random House, Inc.
Published: 2007-07-30T16:00:00+00:00


16

OF COURSE, no convenient rain of screeching felines was forthcoming that night, and when Locke made his first appearance on the quarterdeck the next morning, there was an ugly ghost-gray haze looming on the southern horizon like the shadow of an angry god. The bright medallion of the sun rising in the otherwise clear sky only made it seem more sinister. The starboard heel of the deck was yet more pronounced, and walking to anywhere on the larboard bow felt almost like going up a small hill. Waves slapped the hull and were pulverized to spray, filling the air with the smell and taste of salt.

Jean was drilling a small group of sailors with swords and polearms at the ship’s waist, and Locke nodded knowingly, as though he caught every nuance of their practice and approved. He toured the deck of the Red Messenger, greeting sailors by name, and tried to ignore the feeling that Caldris’ gaze was burning holes in the back of his tunic.

“A fine morning to you, Captain,” muttered the sailing master when Locke approached the wheel. Caldris looked ghoulish in the bright sunlight: his hair and beard washed whiter, his eyes sunken in deeper shadow, every line on his face newly re-etched by the hand of whatever god claimed him.

“Did you sleep last night, Master Caldris?”

“I found myself strangely unable, Captain.”

“You must rest sometime.”

“Aye, and the ship must generally stay above the waves, or so I’ve heard it suggested.”

Locke sighed, faced the bow, and studied the darkening southern sky. “A summer’s-end storm, I daresay. Been through enough of them in my time.” He spoke loudly and casually.

“Soon enough you’ll be in one more, Captain.”

Locke spent the afternoon counting stores in the main hold with Mal as his scribe, marking little lines on a wax tablet. They ducked and weaved through a forest of salted meat in treated cloth sacks, hung from the beams in the hold and swaying steadily with the increasing motion of the ship. The hold was danker already from constant occupation by the crew; those who had been inclined to sleep in the more open space beneath the forecastle had abandoned it as the promise of hard weather had loomed. Locke was certain he smelled piss; someone was either too lazy or too frightened to crawl out and use the craplines. That could get ugly.

The whole sky was a cataract of haze-gray by the fourth hour of the afternoon. Caldris, slumped against the mast for a brief respite while Bald Mazucca and another sailor held the wheel, ordered sails trimmed and lanterns passed around from the storm lockers. Jean and Jabril led parties belowdecks to ensure that their cargo and equipment was all properly stowed. A weapons locker flying open, or a barrel tumbling around in a rocking ship, would send hapless sailors to meet the gods.

After dinner, at Caldris’ whispered insistence, Locke ordered those sailors who’d dipped into the ship’s store of tobacco to smoke their last until further notice. Open flames



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