acing against time, in a bid to save Chendra from whatever fate awaited her at the Tower of Elements, the Lady Luck soared through the clouds. The lush emerald carpet below slowly gave way to the ash-choked rocky slopes of volcanic mountain ranges as the days passed, and Beleeni – briefly – allowed herself to relax. She envied the birds that they experienced this kind of freedom all the time – the vast openness of the skies, with the ugliness of the world a mere possibility far beneath their notice.
“Storm coming in”, grunted Bentil from behind the ship’s wheel. She turned to look and gasped. ‘Storm’ was an understatement. Gigantic black clouds roiled and raged on the horizon ahead, spewing forth lightning in a terrible display of nature’s power. The jungle canopy below thrashed and heaved in the storm winds as if stirred by the invisible hand of a god. Azo, Jullian and the others gathered around Bentil but Beleeni knew what was coming next. To sail around a storm that size would cost them time they didn’t have – they would have to sail through it. She caught Jullian’s eye and knew her fears were founded. All of a sudden Beleeni didn’t envy the birds at all.
Wincing against her bruises, Beleeni helped Kraag move Yuyuwe to a more comfortable position. The scarred warrior’s magic had set the girl’s broken arm perfectly, leaving only bruises and a memory. Beleeni silently thanked the Mothers that no one had been hurt worse than Yuyuwe – even Jullian was back on his feet after being struck by lightning!
The storm had been as bad as Beleeni feared, although she had been below decks for most of it. Thrown about like a toy in the rapids of a river, the Lady Luck had plunged straight into the heart of the tempest. It was surely a miracle that they came out the other side, although the ship was far from unscathed. The patch over the hole in the bow had blown out, nearly sending some of the refugees plummeting to their death. Ropes and spars lay about the deck in a tangled mess, waiting for someone to repair them, and one of the dragon-wing sails sported a tear from tip to mast.