And then the fire was everywhere, exploding outwards with a thump that caught Shef fifty yards away like a blow in the chest. His dazzled eye for long moments could see nothing, then make sense of nothing it saw. Then he realized that the flaming mass was a ship rolling over, the torches in the water were men ablaze, the noise in his ears was tormented screaming.
He swung himself inboard. From the shore Steffi, hands now raw with pain, saw the Fafnisbane lit up in full view of the hostile offshore fort with its catapults, threw his torch aside, watched his last flare sing into the sea and go out. Darkness fell again on the harbor and the harbor wall, where dismayed combatants fell back groping, their only light the burning galley. His voice thick and fearful, Shef called to Ordlaf to turn the Fafnisbane and take her back.
And from his vantage point on the hillside a long half mile away, the Emperor Bruno grasped that his attack had failed, he knew not how. He turned to Erkenbert.
“Agilulf is gone, and the Greeks have let us down. It is up to you now.”
“To me and to ‘War-Wolf’,” the Emperor’s arithmeticus replied.