Reinvo watched over the stern as Father Baenali was hauled up from his attempt at trying to bang the rudder free. There was no shortage of volunteers to attempt to fix the rudder. But, the crew was getting desperate. Father Baenali wasn’t the first to work on the rudder until he collapsed. The priest’s arms dangling at his sides as the repair crewmen pulled him back on deck. A five-pound anvil hammer swung freely on its securing line below him.
Commander Ardlee approached. His face told Reinvo everything he needed to know.
“When the priest works himself to exhaustion, you know the Star Empresses are not looking kindly on you.”
Chief Oiler Wainli walked past and gave a dark sideways glance at Reinvo.
“Oiler,” he blasted.
Wainli spun, not bothering to come to attention. “Sir?”
Reinvo stepped up to him. “Have you forgotten how to salute so fast?”
Wainli sneered. “Don’t see why I should. We’re all cursed. That khab, Janali, cursed us all. The Star Empresses will see to it we all fall off the edge of the world on this abomination of hers.”
Reinvo had to unclench his fists. “Lady Janali will not be spoken of in such a manner. If I hear you speaking like this again, I’ll toss you over the edge myself.”
Wainli shrugged and saluted limply. “Yes, sir.”
Commander Ardlee snapped straight. “You’re on report!”
“Being on report means little if we’re all dead,” Wainli mumbled just loud enough to be heard.
Reinvo pointed. “Get out of my sight, Mister Wainli.”
Wainli shuffled away.
“I’ve meant to speak to you on this, Captain. Many of the crew are more than worried about the edge. Father Baenali is starting to stir up more unrest.”
Reinvo leaned against the gunwale. “Put the looser lips on hammer duty. I doubt any of them will have the energy to cause trouble after trying to fix the rudder with a hammer.”
Ardlee saluted and started to move off but stopped and looked back. “Captain, I checked the charts. We passed the fall point last night.”
Reinvo looked at the broad ocean around them. “I know. I don’t understand it either. None of the crew is trained in navigational math, but a few of the older men are experienced enough to have a general feel for it.”
“So what do we do? The falls exist. There are dozens of ships that attempted to explore them that went over. The last was only two hundred years ago. That boat had hundreds of witnesses.”
“Witnessed, yes. But, they went over the western edge which is visible from the summit of Caerfyrddin Island. I don’t recall any attempts northerly. And the empire made the one hundred mile restriction after that.”
“You think there are no falls to the north?”
“Commander, that’s heresy. Just say we are skirting them in this current we’re stuck in.”