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Author Topic: Die Schlammländer - Prologue [library]  (Read 1759 times)

Offline Alagoric

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Die Schlammländer - Prologue [library]
« on: November 16, 2004, 11:05:24 AM »
http://www.warhammer-empire.com/library/tales/die1.php


“She’s called the Bösewicht,” said Captain Fuchs. She is a vessel of a type originally designed in Tilea, and known in that land as a brigantino. I believe the word translates from their language as ‘skirmishing ship’, or something similar. Very forward-thinking people, the Tileans. We in the north call vessels of her type a brig. She was built in Marienburg, you know, paid off a few years ago, which is when I got her.”

Mrs Starkleiter leaned over the jollyboat’s gunwale to get a better look. Her movement rocked the little craft and old Mother Kessel, who had been nauseous from the moment she had clambered aboard, groaned miserably. She leaned over the side and her daughter began fussing around her. Max and Hermann, the two sailors pulling at the oars, sat in silent admiration of the younger woman’s ample posterior.

Jürgen, holding the tiller, frowned at them. “Eyes front, lads. Steady as she goes.”

“How big is she?” asked Mrs Starkleiter. The sailors sniggered to themselves until they caught Jürgen’s stare.

“She measures around seventeen yards in length, near five yards across her beam, and displaces about one hundred and fifty tons, using the calculations favoured by the Marienburger mercantile guilds,” replied Fuchs.

The sailors bit their lips.

The vessel they were approaching was low to the water and rounded in shape, her rakish lines quite at odds with the cumbersome merchant cogs anchored out in the deep water. Her hull was constructed of dark wood and was almost entirely free of decoration, save for an unpainted figurehead at the prow depicting a bearded man brandishing a cosh.

She was built to the most modern of designs, incorporating all of the latest ideas, and Fuchs was intensely proud of her. “You can tell she’s a brig by the masts, you know.” he volunteered. “There’s two of ‘em, as you can see, and along with the rig, that’s what makes her one. A brig, that is.” He coughed awkwardly.

“Really? What is that third mast sticking out from the front?”

“Madam, that is called a bowsprit, and the front of the ship is called the bow.”

“And how many men does she take to sail?”

“When she was in naval service she was used as a packet boat. I believe she carried a complement of some sixty souls, though she had more guns then, and most of the people were actually soldiers, marines if you will. I have a crew of nine, including myself, which is sufficient to run her in all weathers. As occasion demands I take on more, but I rarely sail with less.”

Entertaining the wives of the local dignitaries never hurt, Fuchs thought to himself. A good impression went a long way when it came to securing a deal. And besides, it made for a diverting entertainment.


—oOo—


The jollyboat came alongside the vessel beneath the forechains, and Max fended them clear of the wale with his oar. They eased the little craft to the waist and Jürgen took hold of a line that was lowered overboard.

“Ahoy there” he called.

Lukas’ face appeared at the cathead and grinned down at them. “Hallo, we’re ready and prepared.”

Fuchs scaled the side and slid over the gunwale, and a few moments later a painter seat, which had been rigged to the mainyard, was swung down. Mrs Starkleiter perched herself on it and rocked herself back and forth like a child on a swing.

“Heave!”

The sailors hauled her up to the level of the deck, then manoeuvred her inboard. As she was gently lowered the Captain offered his hand and assisted her in a graceful dismount. For a somewhat portly woman of a certain age she was surprisingly spry.

Mother Kessel watched her friend disappear. “I’m not doing that” she moaned. “It isn’t dignified.”

“Nonsense, Mum,” scolded her daughter as the seat returned. The old woman was bustled into position and sat with her hands clamped to the ropes. She screwed up her eyes and mumbled prayers of deliverance as she was pulled up. The girl followed, and once the party were aboard the boat was made secure. A gull wheeled overhead, cawing raucously.

“Welcome,” beamed the Captain. “Perhaps some refreshments in my cabin?”

“That would be most pleasant” said Mother Kessel. She still looked queasy.

“Don’t be silly, Ulrike,” snapped Mrs Starkleiter, staring up at the maze of lines and shrouds and stays and braces above her. “Mr Fuchs, I demand that you show me around at once. I very much desire to see the whole workings of this boat.”

“She’s a ship, Mrs Starkleiter. And it would be a delight. If you have any questions I will strive to answer them.”

He had opened the floodgates. She began to enquire about everything, though he was barely able to provide an answer before another query was presented. At first it was gratifying, but before long it became exhausting.

Fuchs started the tour with the capstan, located towards the front of the ship’s waist, and explained its use as a hoist and winch. He then pointed out the two brass cannon, one to starboard and the other to larboard, both lashed down securely and covered by oiled sailcloth as proof against the damp.

Once the weaponry had been fully appreciated they went through to the forecastle cabin. The younger Kessel woman made a fuss over the little galley stove while her mother inspected the contents of the ration chests, glaring disapprovingly at the selection of spices and herbs that she found there. Mrs Starkleiter left them to it and made her way out onto the beakhead. She regarded the two heads with some distaste, then fixed her eyes on the mist-shrouded shore. The Captain was glad of a moment’s peace.

Once she had drunk in the view they headed back through to the waist, collecting the mother and daughter on the way. Fuchs climbed down the steep companion ladder into the hold, then helped the party down, a task not eased by their full skirts. Mrs Starkleiter managed the descent with a minimum of assistance, but the two Kessel women made a meal of the whole affair.

“This is the lower deck, or the orlop,” said the Captain once they were all safely footed. He took the lantern from its bracket by the steps and held it up high.

“Ooh, goodness, what is that terrible smell?” asked young Miss Kessel, covering her nose with her handkerchief.

“The bilge, madam, below these planks on which we stand. The ballast is broken Marienburg bricks, and foul water collects among them. It is pumped out every few hours, but the residue, I’m sorry to say, does rather stink.”

At the head of the deck were compartments containing lamp oil, seasoned timber, pitch, oakum, nails, blocks, and all of the other minutiae required to keep the vessel working. Behind them were the sail lockers and stores of cordage. Barrels of fresh water, salt beef and dry biscuit were stacked up and lashed into place.

Next were the cable tiers, the long hawsers snaking from their neat coils up over the bitts and out through the hawse pipes. Fuchs pointed out how the thick rope could be wound around the capstan shaft to allow the anchors to be raised.

They continued aft, past the heel of the mainmast set into the mast step, and came to the blackpowder magazine. It consisted of a compartment lying beneath a raised step in the deck, and was accessed from above by a hatch. The Captain described the little chamber in detail but refused to open the cover, for fear of a stray spark igniting the volatile powder and blowing them and the ship to fragments.

“If we should have a fire aboard,” he explained, “this compartment can be flooded, which will stop an explosion.”

He lingered at the shot locker, pointing out the differences between round shot, chain shot, and grape, and allowed a detailed examination of the armoury and its range of muskets, pistols and cutlasses. Mother Kessel was rather dismissive. “My husband’s gun cabinet is larger than that,” she exclaimed. Her daughter shushed her.

They stopped to survey the tiller and the steering gear, and when they were done the Captain led them up the aft companion ladder into the wardroom. Mother Kessel plopped down onto one of the benches and threw up her arms.

“Mr Fuchs, I have seen more than enough. Knees and beams and timbers, goodness, my head is spinning. I swear I can’t go another step.” She turned to her daughter. “Klara, dear, would you remain here with me?”

Lukas was assigned to see to the needs of the two women, and in truth Fuchs would have been happy to join them, but Mrs Starkleiter was not yet satisfied.

She headed back out to the waist, paused to look into the steersman’s hutch and enquired about the whipstaff and the binnacle. She scaled the ladder up onto the quarterdeck, studied the mountings for the swivel guns, and eyed the poop cabin, bare save for an empty cot. Finally she made it onto the steeply sloping poopdeck and up to the iron and horn lantern at the taffrail. Fuchs followed her.

From their lofty vantage point the Captain indicated each of the masts and named the yardarms that crossed them. He pointed out the tops, the crosstrees, the shrouds, the stays and the braces, and explained the various elements of the standing and running rigging. His guest had yet more questions and expressed an interest in being hoisted up to the maintop, but Fuchs, just a shade too hastily, pointed out the lateness of the hour and suggested that they should retire. Reluctantly Mrs Starkleiter agreed.

At last they entered the great cabin where Mother Kessel and her daughter sat sipping warmed punch from turned wooden beakers. The prospect of a hot drink and company, however, did nothing to deter the woman. She had spotted the little doors leading out onto the stern gallery and swung open the one to larboard. She eased herself through and edged along the walkway. Fuchs, like the good host he was, doggedly followed.

A few minutes later she re-entered the room through the starboard door and the Captain followed, a pained expression on his face. “Now, where’s my cup?” she asked cheerfully.


—oOo—
« Last Edit: August 17, 2007, 03:12:25 PM by rufus sparkfire »

Offline Alagoric

  • Posts: 83
Note -
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2004, 11:09:03 AM »
Bit out of sequence, but such is life … enjoy!

Offline General Helstrom

  • The Old Ones
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Die Schlammländer - Prologue
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2004, 01:40:40 PM »
Even with all the technobabble it's a most enjoyable read indeed, sir! Reminds me of those opening sequences of Star Trek movies when they introduce a new ship... "And that's the button that inverts the phase polarity of the interface grid - which will do everything from draw transporter victims out of the buffer to fix the coffee machine over there..."

Besides, who can help but chuckle at the poopdeck :-D
I don't know what Caesar thought when he got to the Ides of March
Don't know what Houdini bought when he went to the store
But I sure do miss the eighties

Offline Alagoric

  • Posts: 83
Die Schlammländer - Prologue
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2004, 02:08:37 PM »
Poop ... heh, heh, he said poop ....

Offline xnet445

  • Posts: 487
Die Schlammländer - Prologue
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2005, 05:55:18 PM »
I know this bump borders on Necromancy, but I need my fix.

When is the next installment due? You aren't George R.R. Martin in disguise, are you, Alagoric?  :P
Quote from: sawgunner101
(these rumors are) like getting a free candy bar, but only if you let somebody kick you in the nuts first.
[/quote

Offline Alagoric

  • Posts: 83
Die Schlammländer - Prologue
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2005, 09:08:41 PM »
Sad story, but a series of unrelated mishaps over the last quarter of 2004 resulted in the accidental destruction of (a) all of my computer equipment, (b) my written notes, and (c) the backup disks. Its taken months to get things back together, let alone start writing again. But with a spot of luck I can continue this tale soon. I've only managed to get back online again today ...

Offline queek

  • The Old Ones
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Die Schlammländer - Prologue
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2005, 11:39:35 PM »
a most wonderful tale.

Say something next time you stop into the chat room, Alagoric?   :wink:

Offline cisse

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Die Schlammländer - Prologue
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2005, 04:52:01 AM »
Sorry to hear you had all these troubles.
But still looking forward to the next installment-don't worry, we'll wait! :wink:
cisse

No matter how fast you run, your ass will always be in front of me...

Offline General Helstrom

  • The Old Ones
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Die Schlammländer - Prologue
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2005, 08:02:34 AM »
*jumps*

I thought you'd simply gone AWOL and left us hanging :) Glad to see you back.
I don't know what Caesar thought when he got to the Ides of March
Don't know what Houdini bought when he went to the store
But I sure do miss the eighties

Offline xnet445

  • Posts: 487
Die Schlammländer - Prologue
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2005, 11:24:46 AM »
Alas poor Alagoric, I knew him well........

Actually I don't know anything about him at all, other than that he writes very good fiction, and is sorely missed

Shameless bump number 2
Quote from: sawgunner101
(these rumors are) like getting a free candy bar, but only if you let somebody kick you in the nuts first.
[/quote

Offline Midaski

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Die Schlammländer - Prologue
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2005, 06:10:29 PM »
Mod guilty of bumping!
However people need to see these in order.
Quote from: Gneisenau
Quote
Metal to Finecast - It is mostly a swap of medium. 

You mean they will be using Ouija boards instead of Tarot cards for their business plans from now on?