Another echo reverberated around them and Ricardi spotted the Sister’s Mercy rise up and down briefly, as though it had crested a large wave. Yet, the rest of the sea was remarkably calm. The eerie silence was broken by the ear-splitting crack of cannon letting loose. Ricardi spiralled to his left to see smoke billowing from the portside guns of the Vengeful Roar.
“I didn’t give them permission to fire,” barked Ricardi. “Find out what in the Shining Ones’ name they’re playing at.”
Cooperson gave a few short, sharp blasts on his whistle. The flags went up on the Blessed Light’s mast, but there was no response from the Vengeful Roar. Ricardi could make out frenzied activity on the Gur Panther’s deck, then there was another blast of cannon fire. Ricardi saw large eruptions of water when the cannon balls plunged beneath the waves.
“What in blazes are they firing at?”
The horrifying answer came all too quickly. A pair of enormous, pinkish tentacles exploded from the sea and wrapped around the fo’c’sle of the Vengeful Roar. Each of the tentacles was easily the size of the Blessed Light’s main mast and they were inexorably pulling the Gur Panther to a watery grave. Ricardi could see a group of Sisterhood hacking away at their attacker, with little effect. There was another cacophony of cannon fire and the tentacles loosened their grip before disappearing back below the waves.
Ricardi realised he had been holding his breath while watching the attack.
“Your orders, sir,” asked Cooperson. There was a hint of alarm in his voice.
“Raise the sails,” gasped Ricardi. “Full speed and head back to port.”
Cooperson’s shrill whistles pierced the air, accompanied by the desperate whispers of the captive sailor. Ricardi realised the sailor had been praying throughout the awful scene.
Suddenly the Blessed Light’s angelic beacon on the prow of the ship roared into life, its blue flames casting a resplendent glow across the prow of the ship. The Shining Ones were offering their protection. They had heard the sailor’s prayers.
“Battle stations! Battle stations!” roared Ricardi, confidence returning to his voice. With the blessing of the heavens, a mere sea creature would not stop the might of the Basilean navy. Ricardi smiled as he heard the cannon ports opening along the sides of the Blessed Light and his usual confident posture returned. Now they would just wait until the beast returned.
Ricardi grabbed his telescope to get a closer look at the Vengeful Roar. It appeared to be listing slightly, but was otherwise intact. As he was perusing the ship, he spotted movement beneath the waves. This time the monster wouldn’t have the element of surprise. He motioned to Cooperson to ready the portside guns and prepare to close in so they were in range.
However, this time instead of tentacles appearing from the depths, two hideous long-necked wyrms broke through the waves. The pair could easily reach the deck of the Gur Panther and Ricardi gaped in horror as one grabbed a member of the crew in its needle-sharp fangs before gulping them down whole. The other was simply ripping chunks from the ship and throwing them into the air.
As the chaos continued, a pair of small golden craft emerged behind the wyrms and Ricardi realised with a sense of trepidation that they were actually mounted on the back of the monsters. These were no wild horrors – they were towing the craft. Scanning the sloop-sized objects with his telescope, Ricardi’s jaw dropped when he spied Naiad warriors swarming across the craft and up the neck of the wryms. They were firing net launchers toward the Vengeful Roar. With each blast, a Sisterhood sailor was wrapped in green, weed-like netting before being hauled back toward the awful wyrms.
“Naiads?” whispered Ricardi.
“Why would the Trident Realm attack us?” asked Cooperson. There was a sense of indignant outrage in his voice. “We’re just normal men. We’re just innocent men!”
While Ricardi struggled to process an answer he was disturbed by cannon fire from the Sister’s Mercy. He spun on the spot and gaped at another awful spectacle before him. A massive crab-like creature was attempting to crawl up the side of the ship. Its mighty pincers were picking off Basilean crew and lobbing them into the sea.
Ricardi quickly calculated the distance and realised the monstrous creature was in range of their cannon. Despite the Trident Realm claiming to be allies of the Basileans, there was no way he would stand for this travesty.
“Fire the starboard cannon,” he roared.
“Sir, we would be firing on our own ship,” asked Cooperson, nervously.
“Either we fire or that giant lobster will rip the ship apart!”
Cooperson responded with a blast of his whistle.
“What about the Vengeful Roar?”
“One problem at a time, Cooperson” snapped Ricardi.
There were multiple cracks of cannon fire and Ricardi watched eagerly as the gigantic balls of metal soared toward their intended target. Several dropped short and one cut straight through the foremast of the Sister’s Mercy, but the others hit home. Despite their hefty firepower, most pinged harmlessly off the beast’s thick, barnacle-encrusted shell, but a few struck its sensitive legs. With a roar, the massive crab fell back into the sea.
There were cheers on the deck and Ricardi smiled with a smug sense of satisfaction. That would teach them to mess with the might of the Basilean Navy. His reverie was quickly cut short though by the sounds of screams from the Vengeful Roar carrying on the wind.
“Bring us to bear on those infernal wyrms!” bellowed Ricardi.
This was more like it, he thought, now the situation was back under his control. He felt the ship lurch as it turned to close in on the Vengeful Roar. The remaining crew were now fighting against Naiad invaders on the deck of the Gur Panther, while the Wyrms darted their snake-like necks in and out of the battle, gnashing at the Sisterhood.
The Blessed Light was picking up speed and it would only be a matter of moments until they could unleash the starboard guns. However, before they could close the gap and offer assistance the sea between them started to froth and swirling currents sent the Blessed Light lurching dangerously to one side. Ricardi gripped onto the railing and heard his dinner crashing off the table behind him. In the chaos below them, Ricardi could see something huge rising to the surface. Something impossibly huge.
Gold towers suddenly broke through the tumultuous waves before them and began reaching skyward. Ornately decorated with intricate, swirling carvings, the towers quickly obscured Ricardi’s view of the Vengeful Roar as they rose further and further out of the sea.
An island, thought Ricardi and his blood ran cold. The sailor was right.
Within each golden tower were numerous Naiad crew, each armed with the same net launchers that had caused so much trouble for the Vengeful Roar. A few had already started to pick off the crew members of the Blessed Light.
Ricardi snapped out of his momentary shock and shouted the order to fire.
Cannon balls flew through the air and smashed into the golden towers. Naiads tumbled from the damaged buildings and Ricardi was shocked to see that most gracefully swam straight back to the island and climbed up dangling ropes of seaweed. As if that wasn’t bad enough, now he realised the island was slowly turning to change its facing. His thoughts raced while he considered the impossibility of the obscene sight before him. Islands didn’t appear from nowhere and they certainly couldn’t turn around.
Ricardi prepared to shout another order to fire but the words caught in his throat. The island had stopped moving and now two large, black eyes were staring straight at him. There was a bizarre sense of peace in the enormous eyes, which was at odds with the mayhem and bloodshed around them. In an unexpected moment of clarity, Ricardi realised he was gazing at the face of an impossibly large sea turtle. Unfortunately the realisation came a moment too late, as the turtle bumped into the side of the Blessed Light.
Caught unaware, Ricardi stumbled and fell overboard where he was quickly engulfed by the choppy waters. He struggled desperately against the swirling currents and momentarily broke through the waves, gulping down air before being dragged back under. Now the currents were even stronger and he was tossed and turned like a piece of flotsam. He flapped his arms uselessly, not knowing which direction was up or down.
Then, out of nowhere, the fish-like face of a Naiad appeared in his vision. It appeared to be weighing him up and even in such a desperate situation, nothing could deter Ricardi’s sense of self-importance.
Thank goodness. It will realise I’m a Basilean Commodore, thought Ricardi.
The Naiad gave Ricardi an odd smile and grabbed his arm. Then with a few kicks of its legs, it began dragging Ricardi deeper and deeper into the dark depths below. The darkness swallowed Ricardi just as he gave up and took a large gulp of freezing water, filling his lungs.
His last thoughts before sinking into oblivion were that if the Trident Realm had been roused to war, then the seas of Pannithor were more deadly than ever.
Don’t forget, if you want to get your hands on these terrifying new beasts of the sea, the Trident Realm are now available to Pre-Order from our webstore and are released on the 20th of March!