…Ambush! The Steady Ship and Skylark are attacked by river pirates, from both banks and from the two barges blockading the river ahead – the Bearhunter and the Raging Horn. The Bearhunter is captained by a woman in a red military coat which Carmine recognises, with the help of Ana’s Eyes of the Eagle, as her brother’s. Ana also recognises the angry red-bearded man from the inn at Wildrun, who is steering the other pirate vessel.
The pirates begin an assault with longbows and fire arrows. Anders twists his hand once, and uses The Heat of the Moment’s power to break the Bearhunter, causing it to fall into instant disrepair and disarray, and it begins to turn as the rudder and sails refuse to obey their crew.
As the first wave of arrows fall, Davvie steals the flames from the fire arrows, which fall short of the barges. Ana takes two shots, to the shoulder and flank, and falls to the deck, bleeding copiously. Dragging herself upright, she tries to intimidate the pirates – who are visibly shaken by the use of magic in the battle, but they hold firm – until Geneviève summons an illusion of a huge fireball, at which point the pirates on the nearest bank drop weapons and run.
Emerging from his hiding place behind some barrels, Tobyn uses the power of Life to restore vigour to Ana, allowing her to ignore her wounds and stand strong. In the ensuing fight, Geneviève takes an arrow to the leg; Red-beard is slain and Carmine and Tobyn kill the Redcoat captain with a combination of slingshot and crossbow bolt. Anders unleashes Vatcha powers again, breaking the Horn in two.
Tobyn uses Yarn’s powers to heal all in the boat, while Anders, investigating the Bearhunter, finds a package full of a sticky black substance with a sweet, cloying smell. Carmine and Ana rush to the dying red-coated captain and ask her where she got the coat. With her dying breath, she confesses that the pirates had tried to attach Niklaus on his boat and he had escaped using the powers of the Jotun’s Eye, but left his jacket behind. Carmine claims it back from the dying captain, before the travellers head upstream.
Continuing upstream, they reach the small village of Starford – famous as the site where star-iron once fell. When they arrive the Inn is on fire and a large crowd is gathered around, forming bucket chains from the river. Davvie siezes the fire and deposits it in the river, and the scene nearly turns ugly until Tobyn convinces the village that he is the reincarnated spirit of a wise woman, oath-sworn to protect the needy. Ana discovers that Niklaus was seized by the village guard, believing him to be a water-monster, but he escaped by nearly drowning one; and fleeing upriver again.
The evening passes uneventfully, but setting out the following morning, the party discover that Eliza is sick – coughing sharply and feverish. Moreover, a lone starling has settled on the bow of the Skylark, and is staring expectantly at the travellers.