In a world at war, a brother and sister seek revenge...Another drama-drenched story in a truly epic historical series.
They were born in the middle of a battle, into a world at war. And from their first moments of life, twins Satyrus and Melitta were fighting for survival. Their father, a Greek mercenary, was cut down not long after they had taken their first breath; their Scythian mother was cruelly murdered when they were still children.
But Satyrus and Melitta are children no more. They have learned how to fight, how to love, how to plot and how to kill. Now it is time to leave their adopted home, the city of Alexandria, and the protection of Alexander the Great's former general, Ptolemy - and seek revenge.
Now it is time to go to war...
Release date: February 3, 2011
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Print pages: 400
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Tyrant: King of the Bosporus
Aspis (Classical Greek) A large round shield, deeply dished, commonly carried by Greek (but not Macedonian) hoplites.
Baqca (Siberian) Shaman, mage, dream-shaper.
Chiton (Classical Greek) A garment like a tunic, made from a single piece of fabric folded in half and pinned down the side, then
pinned again at the neck and shoulders and belted above the hips. A men’s chiton might be worn long or short. Worn very short, or made of a small piece of cloth, it was sometimes called a ‘chitoniskos’.
Our guess is that most chitons were made from a piece of cloth roughly 60 x 90 inches, and then belted or roped to fit, long or short. Pins, pleating, and
belting could be simple or elaborate. Most of these garments would, in Greece, have been made of wool. In the East, linen
might have been preferred.
Chlamys (Classical Greek) A garment like a cloak, made from a single piece of fabric woven tightly and perhaps even boiled. The chlamys was usually pinned at the neck and worn as a cloak, but could also be thrown over the shoulder and pinned under the right
or left arm and worn as a garment. Free men are sometimes shown naked with a chlamys, but rarely shown in a chiton without a chlamys – the chlamys, not the chiton, was the essential garment, or so it appears. Men and women both wear the chlamys, although differently. Again, a 60 x 90 piece of cloth seems to drape correctly and have the right lines and length.
Daimon (Classical Greek) Spirit.
Ephebe (Classical Greek) A new hoplite; a young man just training to join the forces of his city.
Epilektoi (Classical Greek) The chosen men of the city or of the phalanx; elite soldiers.
Eudaimia (Classical Greek) Wellbeing. Literally, ‘well-spirited’. See daimon, above.
Gamelia (Classical Greek) A Greek holiday.
Gorytos (Classical Greek and possibly Scythian) The open-topped quiver carried by the Scythians, often highly decorated.
Himation (Classical Greek) A heavy garment consisting of a single piece of cloth at least 120 inches long by 60 inches wide, draped
over the body and one shoulder, worn by both men and women.
Hipparch (Classical Greek) The commander of the cavalry.
Hippeis (Classical Greek) Militarily, the cavalry of a Greek army. Generally, the cavalry class, synonymous with ‘knights’. Usually the richest men
in a city.
Hoplite (Classical Greek) A Greek soldier, the heavy infantry who carry an aspis (the big round shield) and fight in the phalanx. They represent the middle class of free men in most cities, and while sometimes they seem like medieval knights in their
outlook, they are also like town militia, and made up of craftsmen and small farmers. In the early Classical period, a man with as little as twelve acres under cultivation could be expected to own the aspis and serve as a hoplite.
Hoplomachos (Classical Greek) A man who taught fighting in armour.
Hyperetes (Classical Greek) The Hipparch’s trumpeter, servant, or supporter. Perhaps a sort of NCO.
Kithara (Classical Greek) A musical instrument like a lyre.
Kline (Classical Greek) A couch or bed on which Hellenic men and women took meals and perhaps slept, as well.
Kopis (Classical Greek) A bent bladed knife or sword, rather like a modern Ghurka kukri. They appear commonly in Greek art, and
even some small eating knives were apparently made to this pattern.
Machaira (Classical Greek) The heavy Greek cavalry sword, longer and stronger than the short infantry sword. Meant to give a longer
reach on horseback, and not useful in the phalanx. The word could also be used for any knife.
Parasang (Classical Greek from Persian) About thirty stades. See below.
Phalanx (Classical Greek) The infantry formation used by Greek hoplites in warfare, eight to ten deep and as wide as circumstance allowed. Greek commanders experimented with deeper and shallower
formations, but the phalanx was solid and very difficult to break, presenting the enemy with a veritable wall of spear points and shields, whether the
Macedonian style with pikes or the Greek style with spears. Also, phalanx can refer to the body of fighting men. A Macedonian phalanx was deeper, with longer spears called sarissas that we assume to be like the pikes used in more recent times. Members of a phalanx, especially a Macedonian phalanx, are sometimes called Phalangites.
Phylarch (Classical Greek) The commander of one file of hoplites. Could be as many as sixteen men.
Porne (Classical Greek) A prostitute.
Pous (Classical Greek) About one foot.
Prodromoi (Classical Greek) Scouts; those who run before or run first.
Psiloi (Classical Greek) Light infantry skirmishers, usually men with bows and slings, or perhaps javelins, or even thrown rocks.
In Greek city-state warfare, the psiloi were supplied by the poorest free men, those who could not afford the financial burden of hoplite armour and daily training in the gymnasium.
Sastar (Avestan) Tyrannical. A tyrant.
Stade (Classical Greek) About 1/8 of a mile. The distance run in a ‘stadium’. 178 meters. Sometimes written as Stadia or Stades by me. Thirty Stadia make a Parasang.
Taxies (Classical Greek) The sections of a Macedonian phalanx. Can refer to any group, but often used as a ‘company’ or a ‘battalion’. My taxeis has between 500 and 2,000 men, depending on losses and detachments. Roughly synonymous with phalanx above, although a phalanx may be composed of a dozen taxeis in a great battle.
Xiphos (Classical Greek) A straight-bladed infantry sword, usually carried by hoplites or psiloi. Classical Greek art, especially red-figure ware, shows many hoplites wearing them, but only a handful have been recovered and there’s much debate about the shape and use. They seem very like
a Roman gladius.
Eumeles sat at a plain table on a stool made of forged iron, his long back as straight as the legs on his stool and his stylus
moving quickly over a clean tablet. He pursed his lips when he inscribed a sloppy sigma in the red wax, and he rubbed it out
fastidiously and went back to writing his list of requirements.
Most of his requirements had to do with money.
‘The farmers are not used to a direct tax,’ Idomenes, his secretary, said.
Eumeles glared at him. ‘They’d best get used to it. This fleet is costing me everything in the treasury.’
Idomenes was afraid of his master, but he set his hip as if he was wrestling. ‘Many won’t pay.’
‘Put soldiers to collecting,’ Eumeles said.
‘Men will call you a tyrant.’
‘Men already call me a tyrant. I am a tyrant. I need that money. See that it is collected. These small farmers need some of the independence crushed out of them.
We would grow more grain if we pushed out the Maeotae and used big estates – like Aegypt.’
Idomenes shrugged. ‘Traditionally, my lord, we have taxed the grain as it went on the ships.’
‘I did that, as you well know. That money was spent immediately. I need more.’ Eumeles looked up from his tablet. ‘I’ve really had enough of this. Simply obey.’
Idomenes shrugged. ‘As you wish, lord. But there will be trouble.’ The secretary opened the bag at his hip and withdrew a pair of scrolls tied with cord and sealed with wax. ‘The reports
from Alexandria. Do you want them today?’
Eumeles pursed his lips again. ‘Read them and give me a precis. Neither of our people there ever seems to report anything I can use. I sometimes wonder if Stratokles didn’t recruit mere gossips.’
Idomenes cracked the wax, unwound the cord and rolled his eyes. ‘Cheap papyrus!’ he commented angrily, as the scroll fragmented
under his fingers into long, narrow strips.
Eumeles grunted. He went back to his lists – headed by his need to hire competent helmsmen to man his new fleet. He needed
a fleet to complete the conquest of the Euxine – a set of conquests that would soon leave the easy pickings behind and start
on the naval powers, like Heraklea and Sinope, across the sea. And the west coast, which would bring him into conflict with
Lysimachos. He feared the wily Macedonian, but Eumeles was himself part of a larger alliance, with Antigonus One-Eye and his
son Demetrios. His new fleet had been built with subsidies from One-Eye. And the man expected results.
‘Ooi!’ Idomenes shouted, leaping to his feet. ‘The woman actually has something of value. Goodness – the gods smile on us!
Listen: “After the feast of Apollo, Leon the merchant summoned his captains and announced to them that he planned to use his fleet to topple Eumeles, with the approval
of the lord of Aegypt. He further announced that he would finance a taxeis of Macedonians and a squadron of mercenary warships.” Blah, blah – she names every man at the meeting. Goodness, my lord,
she’s quite the worthy agent. There’s a note in the margin – “Diodorus . . .” That name means something? “. . . has the Exiles
. . . with Seleucus”?’
Eumeles nodded. He found his fists were clenched. ‘Diodorus is the most dangerous of the lot. Damn it! I thought Stratokles
was going to rid me of these impudent brats and their wealthy supporters. It’s like a plague of head lice defeating Achilles.
Hardly worthy opponents. So – they’re coming?’
Idomenes checked the scroll, running his fingers down the papyrus. ‘Ares, Lord of War – they may already have sailed!’
‘Why haven’t we read this scroll before?’ Eumeles asked.
‘I see – no – they’ll sail next week. He’s buying a squadron of mercenary captains – Ptolemy’s offcasts.’ Idomenes smiled.
‘Ptolemy will never win this war if he keeps shedding his soldiers as soon as he wins a victory,’ Eumeles commented. ‘He’s
the richest contender. Why doesn’t he keep his fleet together?’
Idomenes considered telling his master the truth – that Ptolemy was rich because he didn’t overspend on military waste. But he kept reading. ‘This is their scout. They’re coming before the autumn rains – to raise
the coastal cities against you and sink your fleet. The army will come in the spring.’
Eumeles got to his feet and smiled. He was very tall and too thin, almost cadaverous, and his smile was cold. ‘A scout? How
nice. Kineas the strategos used to say that if you wanted something done well, you had to do it yourself. Send for Telemon.’
Telemon was one of the tyrant’s senior captains. Idomenes passed the time reading aloud the list of ships from the marginal
notes and their captains. ‘Satyrus will command Black Falcon.’
‘Some professional helmsman will command. He’s just a boy. Well, may he enjoy the adventure, for he won’t survive it,’ Eumeles
said. He called a slave and ordered that his armour be packed for sea.
Telemon swaggered in, announced by another slave. He was a tall man with ruddy cheeks and fair hair.
‘You took your time,’ Eumeles said.
Telemon shrugged. When he spoke, his voice was curiously high-pitched, like a temple singer – or a god in a machine. ‘I’m
here,’ he said.
‘Cancel the expedition to Heraklea,’ Eumeles said. ‘Get the fleet ready to sail south.’
‘We’re ready now,’ Telemon intoned. His voice implied that his master wasn’t very bright.
‘Good.’ Eumeles ignored other men’s tones, or had never understood them. Idomenes wondered if his master’s ignorance of other
men’s feelings towards him was the secret of his power. He didn’t seem to care that he was ugly, ungainly, single-minded,
unsocial and unloved. He cared only for the exercise of power. ‘They’ll come up the west coast. We’ll await them west of Olbia,
so that they don’t raise the malcontents in that city.’ The tyrant turned to Idomenes. ‘Contact our people in Olbia and tell
them that it is time to be rid of our opponents there.’
‘The assembly?’ Idomenes asked.
‘Simple murder, I think. Get rid of that old lack-wit Lykeles. People associate him too much
with Kineas. As if Kineas was such a great king. Pshaw. The fool. Anyway, rid us of Lykeles, Petrocolus and his son, Cliomenedes.
Especially the son.’
Idomenes looked at his master as if he’d lost his mind. ‘Our hand will show,’ he said. ‘That city is already close to open
war with us.’
‘That city can be treated as a conquered province,’ Eumeles said. ‘Kill the opposition. The assembly will fear us.’
‘Kill them and some new leader might arise,’ Idomenes said firmly. ‘What if a knife miscarries? Then we have one of them screaming
for your head.’
‘When Satyrus’s head leaves his body, all the fight will go out of the cities. And we own the Sakje – Olbia needs their grain.
Stop fighting shadows and obey me.’ Eumeles gave his cold smile. ‘What you really mean is that I’m about to go beyond the law – even the law of tyrants. And
you don’t like it. Tough. You are welcome to board a ship and sail back to Halicarnassus whenever you wish.’
Once again, Idomenes was amazed at how his master cared nothing for the feelings of other men, and yet could read them like
‘And you got me out of my slave’s open legs for a reason?’ Telemon sang.
‘Spare me,’ Eumeles said. He didn’t even like to listen to bawdy songs, his secretary reflected. ‘Await my pleasure.’
Telemon turned on his heel.
‘Isn’t it enough for you that my enemy is about to put his head on the block?’ Eumeles called, ‘And that after he goes down,
I will release you and your wolves to burn the seaboard?’
Telemon stopped. He turned back. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Yes, that is news indeed, lord.’ He grinned. ‘What ship will your enemy
Idomenes was always happy to have information to share. ‘Black Falcon, Navarch,’ he said.
‘Black Falcon,’ Telemon sang. ‘Stratokles’ ship. I’ll know him,’ he said.
Satyrus leaned against the rail of the Black Falcon and watched his uncle, Leon the Numidian, arguing with his helmsman, just a boat’s length away. Satyrus waited, looking for
a signal, a wave, an invitation – anything to suggest that his uncle had a plan.
Next to him, on his own deck, Abraham Ben Zion shook his head.
‘Where did a pissant tyrant like Eumeles get so many ships?’
Satyrus didn’t turn his head. He was still waiting for the signal. ‘I don’t know,’ he said. His dreams of being king of the
Bosporus this autumn were fading rapidly, rowed into froth by the sixty or seventy triremes that Eumeles of Pantecapaeum,
his mother’s murderer, had somehow mustered.
Leon had stopped talking to his helmsman. He came to his rail and put his hands to his mouth. ‘Lay alongside me!’ he called.
Satyrus turned and nodded to his own helmsman, Diokles, a burly man whose curling dark hair showed more Phoenician than Greek.
‘Alongside the Lotus,’ Satyrus said.
Diokles nodded. ‘Alongside it is, sir.’
Satyrus owned only one ship, and that by the laws of war. The year before, he had taken the Black Falcon in a sea fight off the coast of the Levant in a rising storm. Falcon was lighter and smaller and far less robust than Leon’s Golden Lotus or the other four triemioliai of Leon’s squadron – all his own ships, for Leon the Numidian was one of the richest men in Alexandria, one of the richest
cities on the curve of the world.
Falcon was a small, old-style trireme, built light and fast the Athenian way. He had good points and bad points, but Satyrus loved
him fiercely – all the more as he suspected he was about to lose the ship.
Falcon turned to port and ‘folded his wings’, all the oars coming inboard together to the call of Neiron, the oar master amidships,
so that he slowed into a long curve. Diokles’ broad face was a study in concentration, a hard frown creasing the corners of
his mouth as he leaned on his oars.
Lotus closed on the reciprocal course. The two ships had been side by side, each leading a column of ten warships eastward along
the north coast of the Euxine. They didn’t have far to close, and the rowers on both ships pulled their oars in well before
their blades might foul, and the helmsmen steered small, guiding the hulls together as they coasted along.
Leon stepped up on the rail, holding one of the white-linen shrouds that held the mast. He leaned out, and just before the
sides of the ships touched, he leaped – easily crossing the distance between ships, his left foot on the Falcon’s rail, his right foot stepping down on to the deck of Satyrus’s ship just forward of where the bulwark rose in the sharp
curve of the stem.
‘We’ll have to fight through them,’ Leon said, as soon as he was aboard. He nodded to the statue of Poseidon on the mast.
‘No other choice, I’m afraid – unless you want to beach and burn the ships. And I don’t think we’ll survive that.’
‘Twenty ships should have been enough,’ Satyrus said.
‘Somebody gave Eumeles plenty of warning,’ Leon said. ‘Listen up, lad. I’m going to put my ships in line and you’ll form line
behind me. My ships will bite into his line and you punch straight through. Don’t stop to fight. Just keep going.’
Leon’s plan was practical – if the goal was to save Satyrus’s life. Eumeles would execute him without a thought – or worse.
‘Don’t be a fool, boy!’ Leon said. ‘If I fall, you avenge me another time.’ His dark skin glowed with vitality, and it didn’t
seem possible that Leon could speak so blithely of his own death. ‘If Eumeles captures me, he’ll ransom me. I’m worth too
much to kill. You – you’d be dead by nightfall. Don’t be a fool. Do as I order.’
Abraham nodded soberly. ‘He is correct, Satyrus. You can try again next year. Dead, we have all lost our wagers, eh?’
Satyrus bowed his head. ‘Very well. We will form the second line and go straight through.’
Leon put his arms around his adoptive nephew, and they hugged, their armour grinding and preventing the embrace from carrying any real warmth. ‘See you in Alexandria,’ he said.
‘In Olbia!’ Satyrus said, his voice full of tears.
The Alexandrians formed their two lines as they advanced. They had practised formations all the way out from Rhodos, three
weeks of sailing and rowing, and their rowers were in top shape. Leon’s ships in the first line were as good as Rhodians –
highly trained, with professional helmsmen and standing officers who had been at sea their whole lives – indeed, many of them
were Rhodians, because Leon paid the best wages in the east.
Satyrus had the mercenaries. They weren’t bad – again, they were professional seamen. Few of them had the quality of ships
that Leon had, although Daedalus of Halicarnassus had a mighty penteres, a ‘five-er’ that stood a man’s height further out of the water than a trireme and mounted a pair of heavy scorpions. The
Glory of Demeter was in the centre of the second line.
None of Leon’s captains needed special orders. They could all see the direction of the wind and the might of the opposing
armament. The choices were narrow and they were professionals.
Satyrus was on the right of the line, and the next ship over was a former Alexandrian naval vessel, hastily built and hastily
sold after last year’s campaign, called Fennel Stalk, with his flamboyant friend Dionysius in command. ‘Bit off more than we can chew, eh?’ he called across the water.
‘Break through, get your sail up and head for home,’ Satyrus called back.
The enemy fleet was just a couple of stades ahead, the eyes painted above the beaks of their rams clear in the golden light.
Despite everything, the fact that Leon’s ships were coming straight at them seemed to have thrown them into confusion.
‘Ten more ships,’ Satyrus said.
Diokles nodded, but Abraham shook his head. ‘What?’
‘He means that they look so bad that if we had ten more ships we could take them – or make a fight of it.’ Diokles spat over
the side, apparently unconcerned by the odds.
Satyrus ran down the centre catwalk. ‘Kalos! Deck master, there! Any man who has a helmet needs to get it on. Oar master,
relieve the benches in shifts.’ If they actually broke the enemy line, their whole length would be vulnerable to enemy archers. He went
back and put a hand on the steering oars. ‘That means you, Diokles. Armour up.’
‘You have the helm,’ Diokles said.
‘I have the helm,’ Satyrus replied, and the dark-haired man ran off down the deck.
The Alexandrians were closing under a steady stroke, saving energy. The enemy columns – all six of them – were still deploying.
The two centre columns had fallen afoul of each other and were delaying the formation, but the consequence was that as the
centre fell behind, the flanks reached well out on either side – the worst thing that could happen to the smaller fleet, whether
by intention or by accident.
‘Leon’s signalling,’ Abraham called. He had his helmet on, and his voice had a strange resonance.
Satyrus had his own helmet in his hand, but he swung up on a shroud to watch the bright bronze shield flash aboard Golden Lotus.
‘Arrowhead,’ he said. But the flashes went on, and on.
‘By the hidden name!’ Abraham muttered.
Diokles came back, buckling his scale breastplate. ‘Of course, wearing this fucker, I drown if I go over the side.’ He looked
up. ‘Poseidon’s watery dick, that’s a long signal.’
Satyrus saw that it was in repeat and jumped down from the rail.
‘Arrowhead – we’re to be the point of the second line. He’s not going to engage the centre – he’s going to go for the southern
edge of the line. At least, I think that’s what he means. Prepare to turn to starboard!’ Satyrus called the last in a command voice.
Diokles got his last buckle done. He tugged the scale shirt down on his hips so that the pteruges sat right, and then put his hands on the steering oars. ‘Got him!’ he said.
Satyrus shook his head. ‘After the turn,’ he said. ‘Find me my greaves, will you?’
Diokles ducked his head and started to root through the leather bags stuffed under the helmsman’s bench.
Satyrus watched the shield. There. The command ship gave a single flash and all down the line, ships turned to starboard,
so that the two lines of ten ships heading east were once again two columns of ten ships heading due south.
The shield flashed again, repeating the next order. In the column next to them, Theron’s Labours of Herakles was slow to turn and almost fouled the Glory of Demeter. The two ships brushed past each other, oar-tips entangled, but momentum saved them and Theron’s rowers had the stroke back.
Abraham shook his head. ‘I can’t watch!’ he said. ‘This is not like fighting elephants!’ Abraham had proved his courage at
Gaza the year before, capturing Demetrios the Golden’s elephants and winning a place on the list of Alexandria’s heroes.
The shield flashed on, now repeating the order. Then the flashes stopped.
‘Any time,’ Diokles said.
‘Take the helm,’ Satyrus said.
‘I have it,’ Diokles said, suiting action to word.
‘You have it!’ Satyrus said, and ran for the command spot amidships. ‘Watch
for the signal! Neiron, the next signal will require us to slow.’
‘Aye aye!’ Neiron, the oar master, was Cardian – a prisoner of war who’d chosen to remain with his captors. He seldom wore
hat or helmet, and had the habit of rubbing the back of his head. He did so now.
The bronze shield gave a single flash.
‘Got it!’ Neiron called. ‘All banks! Cease rowing!’
Behind them, Fennel Stalk made a quarter-turn out of line to the north and the ship behind Fennel made a quarter-turn south, so that in a few heartbeats they were ranging almost alongside, just a few oar-lengths behind.
The next two ships came up on their flanks, so that Satyrus’s second line was shaped like a wedge.
Whatever the odds, it was well carried out, and despite some spacing issues created by the size of the Glory of Demeter, they were formed in a wedge before the enemy could react. Ahead, Leon’s better-trained column had angled in to cover them
and then formed a wedge themselves, so that Golden Lotus was the centre of the first line and Black Falcon was the centre of the second wedge, all rowing east against the flank of the enemy line.
The enemy ships were caught broadside-on, strung out over a stade of quiet sea in the morning light. Moments before, they
had been the horns of a giant envelopment, hunters of the doomed prey. Suddenly they were the target, and the opposite horn
was six stades away – hopelessly far to take part in the sort of diekplous head-to-head engagement that the Alexandrians were forcing.
Diokles grinned. ‘That was something worth seeing,’ he announced.
A stade to go, and the enemy ships were turning to face them. The enemy centre, now more than two stades off to the east,
was still tangled.
Another signal from the Lotus and the first line picked up speed. Fennel took up the stroke in the second line, advancing at battle speed until his helmsman realized his error. The second line was
there to take advantage of the chaos caused by the first. They continued to move at cruising speed, and Fennel coasted back to his spot.
‘Don’t board unless we’re sinking,’ Satyrus said to Abraham. ‘Understand?’
Abraham gave his sarcastic smile. ‘All too well, brother.’
They embraced briefly, and then Abraham buckled the cheekpieces on his high-ridged Thracian helmet and ran down the catwalk
to the marines that he commanded.
Satyrus had time to gulp a few lungfuls of air and to feel the flutter in his chest and the cringing in his bowels – the fear
that never seemed to change for him when danger came. He spat over the side and prayed to Herakles, his ancestor and patron,
Half a stade ahead, Golden Lotus seemed to dance, a swift quarter-turn and then back to his course, his oars suddenly in. Lotus was the point of the wedge, the first ship to hit the enemy line, and he was ramming an enemy trireme head to head, the most
dangerous manoeuvre in war at sea and the most likely to cripple the attacking ship.
There was a sound not unlike that of two phalanxes crashing into each other – or like a lightning storm ripping through the
woods on the slopes of a mountain – and the engagement was over, the Lotus already getting his oars out and coasting free, the enemy ship half-turned to starboard and showing his flank to the Falcon because the Lotus had ripped his starboard oar gallery and mangled his oarsmen on that side.
‘Ramming speed,’ Satyrus said.
Diokles made a face in the stern. The oar master called the new speed and the ship leaped forward.
‘What?’ Satyrus asked.
‘We’re supposed to break free, not kill ships,’ Diokles said.
‘I’m not afraid to fight,’ Satyrus said.
Diokles shrugged and said nothing.
‘Ready for impact!’ Abraham bellowed from the bow.
‘Oars in!’ Neiron called.
Satyrus braced himself against the stern and Diokles crossed his arms over the steering oars.
As they crashed together, the ram went in, and there was resistance – and then something gave. Men on the deck crew were thrown
flat, despite their best efforts, and Satyrus only just kept his feet.
‘Reverse oars! Cross your benches!’ Neiron called.
Satyrus ran forward. The enemy ship, caught almost broadside-on, was turning turtle, his shallow side crushed amidships, so
that he was filling with water. But the upper strakes of his well-built hull were caught on the Falcon’s ram.
‘Back water!’ Satyrus called. ‘We’re caught!’
The oarsmen had to get under their oars and sit on the opposite bench to put their full strength into backing water. It took
Falcon’s bow began to sink. The strain on the bow timbers was immense, and there were popping noises all along the hull.
Neiron stood on his deck by the mast, watching the oarsmen and rubbing his head. ‘Don’t rush ’em, sir,’ he said. ‘We need
three good pulls, not a new mess as they panic.’ He flashed Satyrus a smile and then raised his voice. ‘Ready there?’
A deep roar answered him.
‘Backstroke! Give way, all!’ he called, and the oars bit into the water. One stro
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