The Faebreak

The lance of blue light cut off abruptly, and the scream of rage and pain died away slowly.  The iceberg, no longer visible through the clouds of slightly warm fog, cracked and groaned as its newly changed weight stressed it.  Its structure, weakened by the heating and evaporation, fractured along old fault lines, and with a sudden retort like a clap of thunder it calved, nearly forty percent of it splitting away.  A wave spilled out from it, rocking the ship.

"Get the witch off my bridge," said the Captain, one foot kicking tentatively at her.  "She's served her purpose, put her down with the others." Three crewmen, all wearing the steel-grey uniform of a junior rating, converged.  Two lifted her arms, with the third holding her legs, and they carried her like a sack of new potatoes to the hatch that led down to the hold.  Then one dropped her arm, tilting her precariously towards the deck, and opened the hatch and the other two dropped her through.  They listened for the thump of her body striking the planking, then kicked the hatch closed again and dispersed about the deck.

One returned to the Captain to confirm that his order had been carried out, and the Captain nodded silently.  The crewman disappeared to other tasks.

The helmsman spun the ships wheel, laid a hand on the control column, and waited for the Captain's order.  The Captain still stood on the bridge gazing out at the swirling white and grey mists, seemingly lost in thought.  While the helmsman waited, his nervousness began to grow apparant, and when the first chunks of ice bobbed into view, barely five metres from the ship and at the range of visibility, he drew himself together and dared to shout out to the Captain.

For agonizing moments the Captain seemed not to hear him, but then, at last, he turned his head away from the horizon and looked at the helmsman.

"Half speed, Helm!" he called, his voice deep and commanding.  The helmsman's hand pushed the lever on the control column forward of its own accord, having been primed for just such an order for the last ten minutes, but the helmsman's eyes never left the Captain's face.  Where the Captain's eyes should be were blue glows, a miniature blue sun in each socket.

Gears meshed once more, and the engine hummed, straining against the water to pull the ship away from the shattered iceberg and the danger of a shipwreck.  Smaller chunks of ice clattered against the hull, some causing it to ring like a bell, but still the helmsman stared at his Captain, silently questioning what had happened.

"Maintain course, Helm," said the Captain.  "And someone," his voice raised to a stentorian roar, "bring me that accursed witch!"

The End

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