It was night. Wrest clutched a red clay bomb on a deck pitching in a vast ocean. He raised his arm and threw.
The bomb spiraled over the waves, its target a ship bristling with weaponry. Except, Wrest thought as he stumbled over a shrub, it wasn’t. Its gunwales were lined with passengers screaming for mercy.
The red clay rent everything in two. The halves of the ship broke into fourths. Wrest lost control of his body, buffeted by shouts and laughter from behind him, and the screams of the lobsters lost at sea.
He jerked out of the memory. He’d reached a dell on the edge of the highland camp. Plants covered the ground, scrawnier than kelp or grain but denser on the ground. Emaria called it “grass.”
The camp was alive. Three hunting parties had returned in the afternoon, each with a catch. Somebody broke open a stash of sludge-water, and lobsters danced to music coming from many fires. Arcite brought the Cuttlefish a whole beetle, in only four or five pieces this time. Staever and Emaria managed to turn it into something edible.
For a night, they could feel safe. Who’s going to protect me?
The army formed their ring around the camp, exchanging shifts. Wrest sometimes joined in, though he would seek out a high promontory or a broad field to minimize his chances of running into Kragn. Tonight, though every inch of his skeleton told him it was an awful idea, he would risk the opposite. He didn’t know what had brought on the memory–he never did–but for once he thanked it, for reminding him why he was going to rob a general.
Kragn pitched his tent at the line, a spacious pavilion where the general slept, ate, and took visitors–though he never slept through an entire watch. Before the party at camp died, Kragn would make an inspection.
At midnight, with the Land Moon at its apex, Kragn emerged from the tent and headed toward the perimeter.
Wrest held his breath and moved in. When the general had been Captain Kragn of the Ocean Patrol, he’d considered his own safety subordinate to his men’s, posting a skeleton guard at his cabin so as not to steal lobsters from the watch. One of two people would be present in the tent. Wrest could get what he wanted from either of them.
There was a glow inside–the watch was awake. If he ran into anybody before he entered, he would talk his way out and run.
Drawing one last deep breath, he strode three paces into the tent–and saw one lobster, reading a scroll.