Grimston and Fynwyk hoisted the john boat over the starboard bow railing and beckoned Zed to clamber aboard. Once Zed had situated himself, Grimston and Fynwyk settled in as well and began to lower the boat into the pitching sea. The fury of the storm had subsided little since Fynwyk and Zed were last in the water. Fynwyk knew they were in for a rough night.
Grimston grabbed the oars and rowed the boat out of the shadow of the Storm Current. Fynwyk turned to look on the ship. It was a fine ship. Now, as the flames licked the hull and the rain spattered and hissed as it careened into the fire, it was soon to be nothing. “We could have taken the ship for Theo’s fleet,” Fynwyk thought. There would have been more of a fight, sure, but they could have finished off the wererat crew. Especially with Brimstone’s help. Grimston had proven to be a valuable ally; he was strong, fearless, and capable. The gods had smiled on Fynwyk in his chance encounter with the brute. But Zed. Well, that was another matter. For all his smooth talking and supposed prowess as a “deal-maker,” or “facilitator,” or whatever-the-heck-else he liked to fashion himself, he did not belong on a boat. It was going to be a rough night indeed.
Fynwyk seethed with anger at his friend. Not only had the fool set a ship on fire in the middle of the ocean, he had used his magic against Fynwyk. The itchy pull in his cortex suggesting he and Grimston abandon their pursuit of treasure in the captain’s office told him so. He had seen Zed’s power of suggestion at work before and knew what had happened. A few more minutes would not have mattered. The fire was slow to consume the ship and they would have had ample time to make an escape, though an escape into the roaring ocean in the middle of a storm did not feel like much of an escape, out of the fire but into a frying pan more like. The Storm Current would most certainly have made a fine addition to Theo’s fleet. Its addition would have given Fynwyk some much needed respect as well. His grandfather had been less than pleased with him after the debacle at Starmantle. There was much to atone for in that.
As the flames rose higher and disappeared into the dark skyline, occasionally blurring with the flashes of lightning, Fynwyk let his mind wander away from his anger for a moment. “Where did those wererats come from?” Fynwyk wondered. They claimed that he and Grimston had been infected and would soon turn. Maybe it was only a mind game, the uncertainty playing a trick on him, but Fynwyk felt odd. It was like his blood had become more viscous, like there was something thick and lethargic slugging through his veins. He hoped Dr. Haldoun was still assigned to the Fair Wind. Haldoun was more than capable and would be able to set Fynwyk and Grimston straight. If not, well…at least it would be Fynwyk who ate Zed instead of Captain Bedwin and his crew.
Something else was troubling as well. Was the Maiden’s Hand actually a victim of the Driftwood or was Captain Bedwin lying about that too? Did the Maiden’s Hand and her crew succumb to the terrible fate of becoming wererat food? Since Zed had set fire to their only lead Fynwyk could only hope that they found answers soon, Theo would not be pleased if they returned empty handed, assuming they returned at all.
Turning away from the flames consuming the Storm Current, Fynwyk looked on Zed. The pitching of the small dingy in the rough sea was clearly taking its toll. At least he had not gotten sick immediately, which was more than could be said for the last time Fynwyk took him out on the sea. But placed in this position, Fynwyk knew it would only be a matter of time before Zed got sick. Hopefully the Fair Wind was able to see that the Storm Current was in distress and was working its way toward the flame. But they would need to know where the three of them were. “Zed, use your fairy lights to try and signal the Fair Wind to let them know we are here,” Fynwyk barked. He knew Zed hated to use his magic.