John woke with a start. He was drenched in cold sweat and his heart was pounding as though he were in the midst of battle.
He had an uncomfortable sense that he’d been crying out in his sleep – his mouth hung open; his tongue was dry, his lips were chapped, and his throat was sore.
Slipping out of his hammock, he stepped over to the water pitcher, reassured by the gentle swaying of the floor beneath his feet.
Through the porthole he saw the sea stretching calm and black underneath a brilliantly deep indigo sky, each star a miniscule diamond glittering down at him meditatively.
He drank and drank, trying to wash away the memory of his nightmare, trying to flush away the memory of the real battle.
They taught him how to handle a gun, how to throw a knife, how to wield a sword; they told him stories of pirate attacks, historic battles on the Mainland,
duels and feuds between renowned knights. But the violence had never felt real until the moment the first cannon had slammed into the hull of
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