“Ai. Look out.” I nodded ahead.
A pair of rotting masts jutted up from the water’s surface. We steered around them, gliding over the shipwreck. Taut ropes still snapped in the current. Greenish-white sails billowed underwater. I couldn’t see deeper than the upper rigging, but when we’d passed it before, Ilani had swum down and found corpses and Sverba’s pale blue flag. I tapped two fingers to my forehead in salute.
Last winter, Suriel had sunk half the ships on this inlet in a windstorm. Rutnaast, the only major port between Ingdanrad and Toel Ginu, had fallen to a Corvittai attack the next day. Sea traffic had abandoned these waters after that, along with many of the area’s survivors. We’d seen just three intact ships our whole trip – a galleon carrying plows and harrows forged in Ingdanrad, a heron-prowed canoe from a southern jouyen, and a cod trawler.
Ilani stared into the cloudy water. “Think Wotelem would let me swim down again? There’s stuff to salvage.”
Esiad snorted. “Whatcha gonna do, porpoise girl? Haul crates up with your flippers?”
“Hush,” Dunehein said. “Mereku’s back.”
An osprey streaked across the grey sky. The bird dove and struck the ocean with a plume of water. A tanned woman broke the surface, flipping black hair out of her face. Mereku hauled herself into a canoe. “Ship coming,” she called.
The foremost canoe spun and looped back. We maneuvered together, holding each other’s boats so we didn’t drift apart. Wotelem, the Okoreni-Iyo and second-in-command of their jouyen, wound up next to me. Esiad dried Mereku’s clothes with a few waves of his hand.
“Armed and moving fast,” she said, shivering. “Shot crossbow bolts at me when I flew too close. Their shields have Suriel’s kinaru sigil.”
Dunehein swore. “Corvittai. Guess we only killed their army, not their navy.”
Esiad squinted back east. “They’re not here by accident. Someone in Ingdanrad must’ve sold us out. They don’t want us passing on what we’ve discovered.”