"Reef those damned sails!" Arama howled. She'd had to help Lo drag the prince back from the foredeck to amidships, and she was perilously close to tying the prince to the mast. What was he thinking, leaning over the railing like that in the face of a leviathan? And that gods-be-damned stormwitch, taunting the monster and trying to get them sunk.
"It won't hurt us," Vistaren was saying. "It isn't here for that."
"And what makes you think that, your highness? Have you suddenly learned you have the witchery?" She tried to keep the bite from her voice, but she couldn't. Her bare toes were freezing; her clothes stuck to her. She was terrified. Arama hated being terrified.
"Kinnet told me," he said.
To Arama's shock, Lo let go of Vistaren's shoulders. "What are you doing?" she screeched. She heard the hysteria in her voice and despised herself. How could she be so weak in the face of danger? Even danger brought on them by an arrogant stormwitch who had more power than she had sense?
Lo shook his head and moved away. Arama began to turn and face him, then recoiled as a line slashed her in the face. She felt the end of it lay open her cheek. Blood gushed hot down her face.
"Get below!" she snapped at Vistaren. She slapped a hand against her cheek and lunged for the line as it whipped through the air. "Please, Prince Vistaren! Get to safety!"
Her fingers closed on the line and she threw her weight backwards, securing the line. The prince nodded and lurched his way the dozen steps to the cabin. Arama closed her eyes for a moment, breathing a prayer of thanks to the sea god.
That was when Kinnet Ardelis began to sing. It was the strangest damn sound Arama had ever heard in her life. A primal noise, wailing and howling in the higher pitches, then dropping to a moaning croon. It blended with the keening groans that rose from the sea underneath them. Lightning crackled overheard. Thunder crashed with the force of a slap.
And they came.
The sea erupted around them as more leviathans broke the surface, driving up more than an oar-length into the air before crashing back down. Kinnet's voice throbbed with exultation. Arama realized there were tears on her face, mixing with the blood on her left cheek. Hands closed around her shoulders.
"She brought the others." Lo's lips brushed her ear. There was a surprising joy in his voice.
"She said he was lonely. It was how Vistaren knew he wouldn't hurt us." Lo tugged her back, ever so gently. "Your cheek is bleeding."
Arama let herself be pulled back against his chest. It was as broad and strong as she had always imagined it would be. Her throat tightened. She couldn't allow this. She couldn't enjoy this. But--
"The line caught it," she managed. "I'm all right."
"Feel that?" He staggered once as the bow of the ship dove into the next trough. The wave they climbed next wasn't as steep, though, and the trough that followed wasn't as deep. "The sea is calming."
Arama swallowed. Her heart was racing. She closed her eyes and let her head sink back until it touched Lo's shoulder. "The leviathan was singing up the storm, wasn't he?"
"Him or Kinnet, or maybe both of them. You need to lie down. You're losing a lot of blood." Lo's voice was kind. Lo's voice was, she thought, always kind. But at the moment she appreciated that kindness. He wasn't saying anything about her uncontrolled terror from before.
"Surgeon'll...look at it..." she murmured. She was exhausted from the fear energy leaving her. She allowed him to guide her inside. "Tell the mate--"
"I'll tell him," Lo interrupted. "He knows what to do. Let's get that cut stitched."
"Not until the sea calms down more." Arama closed her eyes. "Could put out an eye otherwise."
The pleasant sound of Lo's chuckle lingered on the air as he went back out.