Linika continued to row, seemingly oblivious of the narrowing corridor of water that she could travel without colliding with some other vessel, many of which contained several armed and angry sevir men-at-arms. They probably did not know the specifics of what the person in the boat had done, but it was clear that she was not to be allowed to escape. Because such rowing was done with your back toward the bow, the naer target had to look behind her from time to time to mark her direction, and make whatever adjustments she chose.
Common sense would have told anyone in the naer's position that there was no escape, that there were more than enough boats capable of the equally quick adjustments necessary to cut her off, no matter which path she chose across the bay. Yet she persisted, her looks over her shoulder displaying casual disregard for reality. The men in the hostile boats could only shake their heads at her denial as they closed in.
Suddenly she stopped rowing and let the oar drop. The boat drifted on, closing the gap now without diversion. The security forces in the boats also let off on the labor of hurried pursuit, thinking that the criminal had finally accepted defeat. Several of them now called messages of assurance to their quarry, assuring her that she was doing the right thing; that she would be fairly treated and that cooperation would surely lessen any penalties that might be assessed against her. They told her to simply remain seated and be prepared to be boarded. They acknowledged that manacles would be placed upon her, but that she would be allowed the dignity of walking to the cells. Nor would any corporal punishment be inflicted upon her.
Linika ignored them, except for the aspect of knowing how close they were getting. Their words were irrelevant, the bleating of sheep. Her mind was across the continent from them, her focus on a regimen of discipline known only to herself and her sisters in Augiery. 'Mother's Blessing', 'Mother's Revenge', 'The Gift', whatever you chose to call it, it was only bestowed upon the children of Audrae. And only with strict meditation, and understanding of its potential backlash. The closer she let her adversaries approach, the more potent would be the effect, and the less debilitation upon herself.
Her mind reached to depths of her physical self, seeking to feel the beating of her heart, not just the slight sense of pulse, but the actual lurching of muscle tissue, the alternating pressure on different ribs from the pulling and pushing of the organ against the bounds of its chest cavity. But more, the timing of the brain's impulses to send the energy to empower this function. Then followed the similar mental alignment with other functions; the impulse to breathe, the steadying of bone and tissue structure against the rocking of the boat. The flow and flux of fluids in her inner ear, the signal-gathering functions of eardrum and nostril, tongue and eyes. All gathered in a central knot of ever-building, pressurized stasis, as her body prepared to unleash the flash of overload.
It was as if by denying herself all the stimuli of living, she could build it to a greater and greater backlash of overload. The closer her targets got, the more severe the impact upon their own functions. the closer they got, the easier it got to actually align her patterns to them, giving her even harsher impact upon them. And they were now so very close. She felt the pressure building, as if she were holding her breath but trying to scream, the way a child will make their face turn red during a tantrum, but encompassing her entire body, and now the bodies of two or three sevir as well.
And then...she screamed...finally...and felt herself empty of all energy in a flash of hate and mental violence. All patterns of energy in those anywhere near her fractured into shivering disruption. For a moment she was deafened by the backlash against her own body, and for even longer she was effectively paralyzed. But the screams, the terror, the wailings of unknown affliction rebounded on these same senses, filling her with the balm of satisfied hostility. She believed the boat was still moving forward, she felt it impact with something and heard cries and splashes of unbalanced enemies hitting the water.
She lay in a near swoon, but knew the excitement of triumph. Never had she been called upon to perform 'Mother's Gift', but she knew she had done it to near perfection, and tears of gratitude to her matron, for this last, great retribution against the enemy, filled her with heaving sobs. She could not move, but it seemed as though she could make use of a single sensation, and it seemed that she could affect a choice of which one it was to be. Naturally, it was hearing she chose, the better to enjoy the floundering bleats of those that had sought to ensnare her, as they cried in fear and frustration; their cries now clearly all coming from one side of her. She was through! She was past!
One last gift from Mother Audrae found her rejoicing ears; that one voice, that same broken common, fluctuating with the hated tongue of Desnind, the voice of Sel'ma, she was sure of it, cutting through the din of fear with pure anguished fury. It was all she could do to restrain her laughter. Not only did she have genuine concern that it might overpower the last reserve which kept her conscious, and she wanted to hear her foes vent their rage for as long as she could. But she also knew that if she laughed aloud, it might mark her location enough for blind pursuit to remain troublesome once the effects of the gift wore off.
She tried to rise and continue rowing, but she could still hardly move. So she lay and reveled silently in her enemies waning cries. Finally they were silent, and she allowed herself to laugh. It was pure rapture. Not only did she give vent to a scorn she had had to repress while she was on the docks, but she could feel her body laughing! All was working, hugely diminished in capability, but functioning nonetheless. She laughed herself to sleep, drifting out of the harbor toward the open sea, the device still safe in her pocket.