…known as Nefalus.
Tokk’it guided the Conqueror toward the spot where Amyria’s maps suggested the island city-state of Nefelus was located. But all he could see was a fog bank up ahead.
And the allies Amyria had promised him for this adventure had so far been slow to arrive. Li Sun and Andrea Ravn had showed up — through the portal Belinda left on the foredeck — but he was expecting more help for such an important mission. But a warlord and an ardent might be just the ticket if they needed a lot of healing in their attempt to run the blockade.
Still, a blockade made of fog was not what Tokk’it had expected.
“Strange way to set up a blockade. Seems like ships could just sail right through it. Still, the fog may be hiding the real obstacle.” But what navy — trying to blockade an island — would hide themselves in such an unnatural fog? “Surely that would help the blockade-runners more than the blockade.”
He adjusted the horizontal tiller a bit to bring his airship up to a high altitude as it entered the fog bank.
Amyria knew she faced a difficult task getting everyone in the Alliance to accept a single leader. “And it will only be harder once the Nefelese are involved. Lord Torrance will surely be jealous of the superior magickal resources of Nefelus.” She remained certain the Alliance needed everything it could muster.
Li Sun stood on the foredeck, squinting into the mist. Now that the Conqueror had entered the fog, he could barely see the end of the bowsprit jutting out in front of the airship.
The ardent only spotted the iceberg after a ghost-sailor in the crow’s nest shouted out and Tokk’it threw the ship hard to starboard to avoid it.
“What is an iceberg doing to high?” Li Sun was sure they entered the fog at least 100 feet above the water and the captain was obviously trying to get even higher. But as the ship narrowly avoided the ’berg, he could see just how big it was.
And Tokk’it was angling the vessel upward so rapidly that Li Sun had to grab the railing. Even so, the airship barely reached the lip of a growing wall of ice.
“That’s what they are trying to block the island with! A giant wall — or even a hemishere — of ice.”
But the barracade still had a hole in it. And Tokk’it was trying to smash it larger by driving the airship through the hole.
And whoever was erecting the ice-wall was not taking chances: Ice giants were positioned at the hole. They were already directing volleys of Icy Arrows at the heroes on the decks of the ships. Andrea, the dragonborn, was valiantly trying to operate the ballista on the main deck.
When her first bolt was easily dodges by one of the giants who did not have a frostbow, the warlord gave that up as a bad job.
Amyria did not hesitate. She ran out on the bowsprit as it punched into the ice and leapt to the flat ice at the bottom of the hole, taking the fight right to the giants. When Andrea followed her out onto the ice, Li Sun decided she would have to get out there and help them.
The airship slowed significantly as the bow plowed into the ice-wall, but Li Sun could see that the ice was breaking. Perhaps they could smash through.
Once he got out on the ice, he caught up with the others. Then it was time to fight a rear-guard action as the giant from the other side of the ship circled around in front of the vessel and tried to trap Andrea in an icy vice.
Amyria was able to fight valiantly against the giants, but nothing she did could stop them from attacking the two healers.
Then, as the first of the Ice Giants fell to Amyria’s onslaught, Li Sun saw the airship break through to the other side of ice wall.
All they had to do was fight their way back aboard…
…before the vessel slid through the hole.
Klaxi was not sure why he had been summoned to the queen’s chamber, but he was sure it was a great honor. “If I was in trouble, she would certainly send out her drones to punish me.” But he was not prepared for her request that he represent the hive in some faraway city called Argent. “On another plane, no less.”
As the Conqueror worked its way through the hole in the iceberg-wall surrounding Nefelus, Andrea Ravn saw Li Sun step easily aboard. The ship continued to slide forward and Amyria was able to leap the remaining distance to the vessel.
Knowing she had stubby dragon wings to help her leaping ability, Andrea stayed behind to delay the Ice Giants and prevent them from getting aboard the ship. But she was overwhelmed when the giants concentrated their efforts on her.
Apparently stopping anyone from breaking through their blockade was important to them.
Even if the “anyone” was just a dragonborn warlord from the swamps of a dead empire.
Slowed by the icy cold from the giants, Andrea had little chance to make the leap
So, when Li Sun threw her the rope he had tied to the mast earlier, she leapt into the fog and ended up swinging from the stern of the airship. Li Sun came over to help her climb up the rope, but a swing and a leap — aided by her stubby little wings — was all it took.
“No climbing required,” she exulted as she landed on the afterdeck, admitting she did not relish being dragged along the ice until Li Sun had pulled her above the keel.