The angry buzz of pistons pumping at high speed surrounded them. The gorge was three hundred spans wide at river level, growing to five hundred at the top of the thousand span walls. The forest closed over the top as a roof, reflecting and amplifying the sounds. “We set off early to avoid the bombing raid.” Marra’s tone was more annoyed than worried.
“The bombers would never be so low.” Dack commented, “And the noise is coming from that direction.” He pointed back toward the Big Lazy.
Marra put the paddle into reverse, holding their position against the current. They had been picking their way through the minefields, following a map they had promised to burn, when the noise had started.
The noise didn’t get much louder, but changed in character as the planes appeared from upstream. There were two monoplanes and two biplanes. The monoplanes were sleek single-engined machines, their flaps lowered to keep from stalling at the low speed of the biplanes. One of the biplanes was a cut down bomber, refitted with gun cupolas on every viable surface. None of them carried a nation’s markings, instead they were decorated with wild colour schemes and stylised woodland demons.
Some of the gunners on the big biplane waved and saluted as they passed overhead. Marra and Morn returned the gestures. Dack made the sign of the Silver Tower and bowed his head in a quick prayer. “I think,” he announced, “that we may be in danger if we follow them out of the mouth of the gorge.”
“We have nowhere else to go.” Marra pointed out.
“Then we shall just sneak out when it is dark. I guess.”