A Mighty Fortress – Snippet 33

A Mighty Fortress – Snippet 33

But when the enemy ship took the offered advantage, Mahntain would execute the instructions he’d been given earlier. Blessed Warrior would immediately alter course, swinging from her heading of north-northwest to one of west-by-north or even west-southwest, taking the wind almost dead abeam. That course would carry her directly across the Charisian ship’s bow, giving her the opportunity to rake the larger, heavier galleon from a position in which none of the Charisian’s guns could bear upon her in reply.

As soon as he’d crossed the Charisian’s course, Mahntain would come back onto his original heading . . . by which time (if all had gone according to plan) the Charisian and Archangel Chihiro would have overtaken Blessed Warrior. The bigger galleon would be trapped between Wailahr’s two lighter vessels, where their superior number of guns ought to prove decisive.

Of course, it’s unlikely things will go exactly “according to plan,” Wailahr reminded himself. On the other hand, even if we don’t pull it off exactly, we should still end up with the tactical advantage.

The Charisian wouldn’t be able to turn away to prevent Blessed Warrior from raking her from ahead without exposing her equally vulnerable — and even more fragile — stern to Archangel Chihiro’s broadside. She wouldn’t have much choice but to remain broadside-to-broadside with the flagship. So unless Archangel Chihiro took crippling damage to her rigging in the opening broadsides, or unless someone collided with someone else, the advantage should still go to the Desnairians.

And a collision will work to our advantage, too, Wailahr thought grimly. Good as the Imperial Charisian Marines were, Wailahr’s crews would outnumber the Charisians by two-to-one. A collision that let him board the larger ship and settle things with cold steel wouldn’t exactly be the worst outcome he could imagine.

* * * * * * * * * *

Captain Yairley watched the tip of Destiny’s jibboom edging steadily closer to the Desnarian galleon. He could read the other ship’s name off her counter now — Archangel Chihiro, which didn’t leave much doubt about who she’d actually been built to serve — and even without his spyglass, he could make out individual officers and men quite clearly.

Archangel Chihiro, despite her shorter, stubbier length, stood higher out of of the water than Destiny which undoubtedly made her crankier and more leewardly. She also had less tumblehome (undoubtedly a legacy of her merchant origins), and her forecastle and aftercastle had both been cut down at least somewhat during her conversion. She’d retained enough height aft, however, for a complete poop deck, and in some ways, Yairley wished Destiny had possessed the same feature. Destiny’s helmsmen’s quarterdeck position left them completely exposed — to musketry, as well as cannon fire — whereas Archangel Chihiro’s wheel was located under the poop deck, where it was both concealed and protected.

As if to punctuate Yairley’s reflections, muskets began to fire from the other vessel. They were matchlocks, not flintlocks, which gave them an abysmally low rate of fire. They were also smoothbores, which wasn’t going to do any great wonders for their accuracy, although pinpoint precision wasn’t much of a factor firing from one moving ship at personnel on the deck of another moving ship. Whether or not any particular target was actually hit under those circumstances was largely a matter of chance, although it was just a bit difficult to remember that when a musket ball went humming past one’s ear.

As one had just done, a corner of his mind observed.

Marine marksmen in the fore and maintops began returning fire, and if their rifled weapons weren’t a lot more accurate under the conditions which obtained, the fact that they were armed with flintlocks, not matchlocks, at least gave them a substantially higher rate of fire. Someone screamed at one of the midship starboard carronades as one of those matchlocks did find a target, and Yairley saw a body pitch over the side of Archangel Chihiro’s mizzentop and smash down on the poop deck with bone-pulverizing force as one of his Marines returned the compliment.

I think we’re just about close enough, now, he mused, and glanced at Lathyk.

“Now, Master Lathyk!” he said crisply, and the first lieutenant blew his whistle.

* * * * * * * * * *

Sir Hairahm Wailahr didn’t even turn his head as the seaman’s body crashed onto the poop deck behind him. The man had probably been dead even before he fell; he was almost certainly dead now, and it wouldn’t have been the first corpse Wailahr had ever seen. He paid no more attention to it than he did to the splinters suddenly feathering the planking around his feet as three or four Charisian musket balls thudded into the deck. The other ship’s marksmen had obviously recognized him as an officer, he noted, even if they didn’t realize exactly how rich a prize he would make. Yet it was a distant observation, one which was not allowed to penetrate below the surface of his mind. The commodore was scarcely unaware of his own mortality, but he had other things to worry about as the tip of the Charisian’s long, lance-like jibboom started to creep level with Archangel Chihiro’s taffrail.

Langhorne, this is going to hurt! he told himself. The Charisian was coming even closer than he’d anticipated. It looked as if the other galleon’s captain intended to engage from a range of no more than thirty yards. At that range, not even Wailahr’s relatively inexperienced gunners were likely to miss, and he grimaced as he considered the carnage which was about to be inflicted.

But on both of us, my heretical friend, he thought grimly. On both of us.

Another few minutes, and —

* * * * * * * * * *

“Larboard your helm!” Sir Dunkyn Yairley snapped. “Roundly, now!”

“Helm a-lee, aye, Sir!” Chief Waigan acknowledged, and he and his assistant spun the big double-wheel’s spokes blurringly to larboard.

The motion of the wheel moved the ship’s tiller to larboard, which kicked her rudder in the opposite direction. Which, in turn, caused the ship to turn abruptly to starboard.

* * * * * * * * * *

Wailahr’s eyes widened as the Charisian suddenly altered course. It was the last thing he’d expected, especially since it sent her turning away from Archangel Chihiro — turning up to windward across his flagship’s wake, and not ranging alongside to leeward as he’d expected. Her yards tracked around with metronome precision as her heading altered, continuing to drive her, yet she slowed drastically as her new course brought her up closer to the wind, and Wailahr’s initial surprise began to turn into a frown of confusion as he found himself looking at the Charisian galleon’s larboard gunports.

Her closed larboard gunports, since it was her starboard broadside she’d run out when she cleared for action.

* * * * * * * * * *

“Roundly, lads! Roundly!” Hektor shouted down through the hatch gratings.

The admonition probably wasn’t necessary. The officers and men in charge of Destiny’s main armament had undoubtedly heard Lieutenant Lathyk’s whistle almost as well as the carronade gunners on the spar deck weapons. Captain Yairley wasn’t the sort to take chances on something like that, however. It was one of his fundamental principles that a competent officer did everything he could before the battle to minimize the chance of errors or misunderstandings. They were going to happen, anyway, once battle was fairly joined, but a good officer did his best to see to it there were as few as possible . . . and that they didn’t happen any earlier than they had to.

And this particular evolution presented plenty of opportunity for things to go wrong.

As the ship rounded up to windward, the seamen who’d been ostentatiously manning the weather carronades (as any wall-eyed idiot on the other ship could plainly see) turned as one and charged, obedient to Lathyk’s whistle, to the opposite side of the deck. The short, stubby carronades of the larboard battery, already loaded and primed, were run out quickly, in plenty of time, but the heavier gundeck weapons were both much more massive and far less handy.

The good news was that no one aboard Archangel Chihiro had been able to see Destiny’s gundeck. Captain Yairley had been able to send full gun crews to his larboard battery without giving away his intentions. Now the larboard gunports snapped open, gun captains shouted orders, and men grunted with explosive effort as they flung their weight onto side tackles. Gun trucks squealed like angry pigs as they rumbled across planking which had been sanded for better traction, and the long, wicked snouts of the new-model krakens thrust out of the suddenly open ports.

There wasn’t much time to aim.

Fortunately, HMS Destiny’s gun captains had enjoyed plenty of practice.

* * * * * * * * * *

The world came apart in a deafening bellow of lightning-shot thunder.

Sir Hairahm Wailahr had never imagined anything like it. To be fair, no one who had never experienced it could have accurately imagined it. He stood on the tall, narrow poop deck of his flagship — a deck little more than forty feet long and barely twenty feet across at its widest point — and twenty-seven heavy cannon exploded in a long, unending drumroll, spitting fire and blinding, choking smoke as Destiny crossed Archangel Chihiro’s stern and her broadside came to bear from a range of perhaps fifty feet. The two ships were so close together that Destiny’s jibboom had actually swung across her enemy’s poop, barely clearing Archangel Chihiro’s mizzen shrouds, as she altered course almost all the way to northeast-by-east, and the concussive force of that many cannon, firing at that short a range, each gun loaded with a charge of grape on top of its round shot, was indescribable. He actually felt the heat of the exploding powder, felt vast, invisible fists of muzzle blast punching his entire body with huge bubbles of overpressure. Felt the fabric of his flagship bucking and jerking — slamming upward against his feet as if some maniac were pounding the soles of his shoes with a baseball bat — as the Charisian fire crashed into her. Planking splintered, the glass of Archangel Chihiro’s big stern windows simply disappeared, and the screams and high-pitched shrieks of men who’d been taken just as completely by surprise as Wailahr himself ripped at his ears even through the incredible thunder of Destiny’s guns.

Cleared for action, Archangel Chihiro’s gundeck was one vast cave, stretching from bow to stern. A cavern edged with guns, nosing out through the open ports, waiting for a target to appear before them. But the target wasn’t there. It was astern of them, where the gunners crewing those guns couldn’t even see it, far less fire back at it, and six-inch iron spheres came howling down that cavern’s length like Shan-wei’s own demons.

Half a dozen of the galleon’s lizards took direct hits, their carriages disintegrating into clouds of additional splinters, the heavy bronze gun tubes leaping upward, then crashing back down to crush and mangle the survivors of their crews. Human beings caught in the path of one of those round shot were torn in half with casual, appalling ease. Splinters of the ship’s fabric — some of them as much as six feet long and three or four inches in diameter — slammed into fragile flesh and blood like spears hurled by some enraged titan. Men shrieked as they clutched at torn and riven bodies, and other men simply flew backward, heads or chests or shoulders destroyed in explosions of gore as grapeshot — each almost three inches in diameter — smashed into them.

That single broadside killed or wounded almost half of Archangel Chihiro’s crew.

* * * * * * * * * *

“Bring her back off the wind, Waigan!”

The captain had to raise his voice to be heard, yet it seemed preposterously calm, almost thoughtful, to Chief Waigan.

“Aye, aye, Sir!” the petty officer replied sharply, and the wheel went over in the opposite direction as Destiny’s rudder was reversed.

The galleon didn’t like it, but she answered like the lady she was. Her hull heaved awkwardly as she swung back to the west, across the waves, but Yairley had timed the maneuver almost perfectly, and the wind helped push her back around.

Destiny came back before the wind, then swept even farther to larboard, taking the wind on her larboard quarter instead of her starboard beam, and her topsail yards swung with machinelike precision as they were trimmed back around.

She’d lost a great deal of her speed through the water, and Archangel Chihiro’s motion had continued to carry her away from Yairley’s ship, along her earlier course. But there was far too much confusion aboard the Desnairian ship for Captain Ahbaht — or, rather, Lieutenant Mahrtynsyn, since Ruhsail Ahbaht had encountered one of Destiny’s round shot — to even consider altering heading. Her officers were still fighting to reestablish control after the incredible carnage of that first broadside when Destiny swept across Archangel Chihiro’s stern yet again, this time from northeast to southwest, rather than southwest to northeast.

There hadn’t been time for her gun crews to reload, but they didn’t have to. The starboard guns had been loaded before they were run out, and even with so many hands detailed to man the braces, the starboard battery’s officers had been left more than enough crewmen to fire the already loaded weapons. The range was much greater — well over a hundred yards this time. Closer to a hundred and fifty, actually. But not enough closer to a hundred and fifty.

* * * * * * * * * *

“Clear away that wreckage! Get it over the side — now!” Sir Hairahm Wailahr shouted.

A commodore had no business allowing himself to be distracted from his responsibilities as a flag officer. Wailahr might not be a sailor, but he knew that much. Unfortunately, there was damn-all else he could do at the moment, and he actually grabbed one end of the broken length of gangway which had fallen across the upper deck guns himself. He heaved, grunting with effort, fighting to clear away the wreckage blocking the guns, then wheeled back around, his head coming up, his eyes darting to the wind-shredded smoke astern of his flagship, as HMS Destiny fired her second broadside.

The next best thing to thirty more heavy round shot came screaming at him. The range was much greater this time, and, unlike the last broadside, many of these shot missed Archangel Chihiro entirely. But some of them didn’t, and one of those which didn’t crashed into the mizzenmast, cutting it cleanly in two eight feet above the deck. It toppled forward, smashing into the mainmast with all its own weight added to the driving pressure of the wind, and the mainmast went with it. Archangel Chihiro shuddered like a mortally wounded prong lizard, then heaved as a torrent of shattered spars and shredded canvas came crashing down across her decks or plunged into the sea alongside. She surged wildly, rounding to the sudden sea anchor of her own rigging, and fresh screams echoed as still more of her crew were crushed under the falling spars or torn apart by the Charisian fire.

Wailahr staggered clear of the broken mizzen, right hand clutching his left arm. That arm was almost as badly broken as his flagship, a corner of his brain reflected — not that it mattered a great deal at the moment.

He watched, his eyes bitter with understanding, as the Charisian galleon altered course yet again. She swung back, coming fully back before the wind, her spars once more tracking around as if controlled by a single hand. She leaned to the wind, driving hard as she accelerated once more, and he saw the topgallants blossoming above her topsails. They fell like curtains, then hardened as sheets and tacks were tended, and Destiny came storming past Archangel Chihiro.

Wailahr turned, looking for Blessed Warrior.

He knew Captain Mahntain must have been taken at least as much aback by the Charisians’ unexpected maneuvers as Ahbaht and he himself had been. Blessed Warrior had altered course almost automatically when Destiny opened fire, swinging around onto a westerly heading as originally arranged. Unfortunately, that was the only part of Wailahr’s original arrangements which had worked as planned. Worse, neither Destiny nor Archangel Chihiro were where he’d expected them to be when he planned his original tactics. Now Blessed Warrior was well to the southwest of her original track . . . and Destiny, edging around to north-by-northwest, was already heading to pass astern of her — and with the advantage of the weather gauge, as well — rather than finding herself broadside-to-broadside with both of her opponents at once.

The Charisian galleon’s starboard broadside flamed and thundered yet again as she swept past Archangel Chihiro, heading for her second victim. The foremast, already weakened by the loss of the stays which had once led aft to the vanished mainmast, pitched over the side, leaving Archangel Chihiro completely dismasted. The ship rolled madly, drunkenly, corkscrewing indescribably as the sudden loss of all her tophamper destroyed any vestige of stability, only to snub savagely as she brought up short against the wreckage still anchored to her side by the broken shrouds. Lieutenant Mahrtynsyn was still on his feet, somehow, shouting commands, driving parties of his surviving seamen to clear away the wreckage. Axes flashed and thudded, chopping through tangled cordage, fighting to free the ship even while other sailors and Marines dragged sobbing, screaming, or silently writhing wounded out of the debris.

Destiny’s passing broadside added still more torn and broken bodies to her cruel toll, but it was obvious Archangel Chihiro had become little more than an afterthought to the Charisian vessel. Wailahr’s flagship was a broken ruin, so badly mangled, with so many of her people dead or wounded, that she could be gathered in any time Destiny got around to it. The enemy had more important concerns at the moment, and Hairahm Wailahr’s jaw clenched with something far worse than the pain of his broken arm.

He knew Tohmys Mahntain. If there was a single ounce of quitter in Mahntain’s entire body, Wailahr had never seen even a hint of it, and Blessed Warrior was already altering course. Her sail drill lacked Destiny’s polished precision, and the ship wallowed around to her new heading unhappily, sails flapping and thundering in protest. Her maneuver managed to turn her stern away from her enemy before Destiny could rake her as she had Archangel Chihiro, and her starboard guns ran out defiantly. Yet gallant and determined as Mahntain undoubtedly was, the awkwardness with which his ship came onto her new heading only emphasized how little comparison there was between the skill level of his crew and that of the Charisian galleon slicing towards him. He wasn’t simply outgunned and outweighed; he was outclassed, and a part of Sir Hairahm Wailahr wished he still had an intact mast and signal halyards. Wished he could order Mahntain to break off the action and run for it.

Or surrender, he admitted to himself with bleak, terrible honesty as he watched Sir Dunkyn Yairley’s ship stoop upon her fresh prey like a hunting wyvern. He can’t break off — can’t outrun her or avoid her. And since he can’t —

Fresh thunder rolled across the icy afternoon sea as the Charisian galleon, as merciless as the kraken emblem of the Ahrmahks flying from its mizzen yard, opened fire yet again.

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36 Responses to A Mighty Fortress – Snippet 33

  1. Rekes says:

    Awesome. If the Destiny can move in for a broadside and boarding action she’ll have enough to take over the second ship intact and receive a surrender from the first.

  2. Dave says:

    Yep, this isn’t going well at all for the Desnairian pair. I can’t wait for the rest of this one.

  3. Bret Hooper says:

    Well, so much for that battle! Only one question remains: will Destiny get the gold, too, and if so, how?

  4. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Sorry Brent, but they don’t even attempt to get the gold.

  5. Peter S says:

    Awwww, Drak, you spoiled it. :-)

  6. Elim Garak says:

    @2 Possibly – this battle feels very much like something from Captain Blood. And Captain Blood would totally get the gold by masquerading as a Spaniard (he was very good at that).

  7. Mike says:

    The gold is on shore, right? These ships have not yet picked it up.

  8. Virgil says:

    lol, and remember when the Captain said that he needed to keep some secrets to himself. He had figured out why the two ships were where they were and that why the crew was going to be disappointed that they found them now and not later. lol, prize is going to be so much less.

  9. jgnfld says:

    When the Blessed strikes, which it will, there will be a 2 ship “flotilla” available. The information will be extracted one way or another. Unless Drak is using his inside knowledge, I’d say he’s guessing here. And guessing wrong. The gold goes to fund Hektor’s new digs somewhere!

  10. Zach says:

    @7 So here is the question, has Sir Dunkyn Yairley been let into the inner circle? If so, when?

  11. Daryl says:

    Told you so.

  12. jgnfld says:

    BTW…Hektor could do quite well: He, albeit indirectly, shares in the “crown share” by virtue of being in the royal family and gets his his personal officers cut as an individual! Lucky boy :-) !

  13. Maggie says:

    From a find to a check, from a check to a view, from a view to a kill in the mor-ning!

  14. Peter Z says:

    I think David captured something here I’ve missed when I read the Hornblower novels. Hornblower’s self doubts always seemed to dominate the stories for me, yet the other characters in the story saw him as a confident natural leader.

    What David did here captured that dichotomy brilliantly. Sir Dunkyn’s doubts are seen as calm reflection by Chief Waigan. Those same doubts that drive Sir Dunkyn to train his crews hard are seen as confidence crushing elan by Sir Hairahm Wailahr (not quite Hairam Walker). ‘Twas a joy to read.

    Now, to more immediate matters. What say you all to towing Archangel Chihiro with Blessed Warrior (keep Warrior if she survives in better shape) loaded with the prisoners to the nearest port? That ship will cost more to rebuild than simply building a new sturdier and more weatherly ship. The crew members including their commodore are so defeated it may be better to circulate their stories (from their own mouths) ashore. Psyops at its most direct.

    I see two messages it sends. 1) See what 3 Charisian broadsides can do? 2) The ICN is kind enough to return those that don’t threaten Charis back home. Even if in their ignorance they annoy ICN officers a bit by contesting ICN superiority on the high seas. Both are crystalized into one theme “to meet the ICN on the high seas is to get buggered just like Archangel Chihiro”. One may survive but it won’t be pleasant.

  15. Michael says:

    I suspect the next snippet will be a new chapter, following a new situation. The last sentence fairly screams demarkation.

  16. Steven says:

    I agree that Yairly won’t go after the gold, now. However I do see a build up to a fleet level action. Remember in the last novel, Sharleyan suggested ways to prune back the COGA ship building program. A good way to do that is to strike at it’s financial strength and Staynair (Admiral) being dispatched with a squadron to secure it. It will have a direct effect on moral also.

  17. Damon says:

    I was rereading the first major land battle scene in “By Heresies Distressed” last night. Like this battle, I think DW does a very good job of giving the reader the feeling that a lot of good men on both sides are dying and not demonizing the people fighting for the “wrong” side.

  18. KimS says:

    Only three more weeks until the book is released!!

  19. Danny KCW says:

    @15 @16 Does seem like this is the end of this event. Had to feel for the Desnarians, it’s really depressing to realize just how badly outclassed you are in equipment and skill. However, it seems like a shame not to go for the gold. But denying the Church of its use or even postponing its availability will inflict some consternation. If the gold stays at Khairman Keep for now I would assume that if it doesn’t get moved overland Desnar will likely use a much larger naval force to move it later. Wonder if the ICN will be waiting for that or not.

    @14 I can’t see Yairley wanting to take either ship home as prizes. Even Charisian converted merchant galleons were better armed than these two Desnarians and I agree it will likely cost more to rebuild them than to build a new warship. In any case I don’t think the Charisians have been converting any more merchants (even their own) into warships for a while. Purpose build war galleon are so much more combat effective.

    I think Yairley will release the survivors of the two Desnarian galleys (beach them on some stretch of the Desnarian coast?) and maybe keep Wailahr (political prisoner?). This would be both a great PR coup demonstrating to the civilian populations that Charisian’s aren’t ‘blood thirsty monsters’ and word of the ‘easy’ defeat at two-to-one odds would dampen the moral of the Church captains and sailors. However, people like Thirsk will learn from this defeat. Whether or not any recommendations he makes will be taken or recognized by others is a different matter. Yet, one often does learn more from mistakes and losses than from victory and he’ll certainly train the crews he commands as hard as possible.

    I suspect the one major lesson that the Church will learn from this is that it won’t allow its newly built fleet units to go sailing unless in very large numbers or limit their sailing to more ‘protected’ waters as the fleet works up. While this could keep the ICN from ‘pruning’ their fleets effectively (we’ll have to see just how well Manthyr does in the Sea of Harchong) it may also keep them from gaining the experience of fighting as a united command. This was also a problem experienced by the combined fleets sent to smash Charis in OAR. Yet, I think Thirsk will be smart enough to try to figure out a way to introduce fleet size training and tactics. If only he could be encouraged to ‘defect’ to the other side.

  20. Michael says:

    @18 I’d start looking earlier. Tor has never imposed a strict street date on DW’s books, so stores will put them on the shelf when they get the boxes. IIRC, I got BHD at a B&N more than a week before it’s ‘official’ release date.

  21. Peter Z says:

    @19 Danny, I doubt the ICN will commission either of them into service but Warrior is a galleon and can carry cargo. That has value to someone with gold to pay for it; if not in Charis then certainly in Siddermark.

    Now I am all for concentrating all the potentially dangerous officers in one spot. Let Wailahr go and spread his news. Let all the truly determined officers gather and learn at Thirsk’s feet. That means all the other fleets will have the less than competent officers obliged to man the Church’s ships. They would be an easier force to defeat, regardless of numbers. Aamof, the greater their number the more likely they are to entangle each other.

    Thrisk’s fleet then will be smaller and more potent but also capable of only one axis of threat. Concentrate on that axis and make it easier to counter the truly dangerous foe. Wipe his force out; criple that fleet and capture the competent officers and leave Clyntahn impotently waving his fist from shore. Belch!

  22. Damon says:

    @20 Michael, do you know if was this also true for pre orders of the last book? It would be nice to beat the release day on those as well.

  23. Thomas M says:

    @22: Amazon will deliver my book to Germany in this time:
    April 08 2010 – April 12 2010

  24. Bret Hooper says:

    @16: a direct effect on moral, & 19: dampen the moral; The effect on the moral(s) of the enemy, if any, is probably less important than the effect on their morale.

  25. ChrisD says:

    @18,@19
    Shame, really.

    I’m away on holiday so unless the book is published in LoS at the same time as Uk then I’ll have to wait until I get back home.

    Drat!

  26. Bret Hooper says:

    @28 (snippet 32) Thank you, Peter. Yes, that helped greatly.

  27. Bret Hooper says:

    @14: “towing Archangel Chihiro with Blessed Warrior,” & @19: “release the survivors”: Maybe they could be towed, not all the way to Charis, but to Tarot, where they could be a strong inducement to side with Cayleb.

  28. Peter Z says:

    @27 No, Bret, I meant release them floating offshore of a Desnairian port in Archangel Chihiro. Tarotisian sailors know full well what they face. All those poor SOBs are already scared spitless after their last encounter. They know what it took to defeat a force while outnumbered 6:1. Desnairian landlubbers like the commodore obviously have no clue.

  29. rnewman says:

    Even without the gold, wouldn’t that two shiploads of bronze cannon, even if they have to be melted down again and recast in the Charis Navy standards sizes, be a valuable prize?

    I seem to recall some concern in the earlier books about the time it took to mine and refine copper/tin to make the bronze and a possible shortage of copper for covering the fleet. I would think all those cannon on the church ships would be useful as raw material at the least.

    @20 – agreed. I had the last book on pre-order at Amazon and it was still showing a week or two to shipment, and another week to delivery, when I picked up a copy at the local book store. I had time to cancel my order with Amazon. :)

  30. wyrm says:

    A couple of minor points

    Firstly, as far as I remember, they haven’t sorted out iron cannons for shipboard use, and had a copper shortage. So there is an argument to campture the ships to take the cannon back for melting & recycling – if only to copper bottom a ship or two.

    Secondly, we all know how paranoid Clyntahn is. If the Desnarian ships/sailors just disappear, Clyntain is near certain to think of conspiracies, and Go4 relations with Desnair will suffer.

  31. Danny KCW says:

    @24 Thanks for catching my typos Bret, I meant to use the word ‘morale’.

    @21 Peter, I suppose one could find commerical buyers for them assuming Yairly’s gunners don’t put too many holes into Blessed Warriors’ hull and one could refit Archangel Chihiro with the new sail plans seeing she’s completely de-masted.

    @29 Ah, I can’t begin to image what Clyntahn would think or do if the gold at Khairman Keep were also to disappear with them, but I could have fun trying.

  32. @31

    Alternative, less effort. Put captured crew on Blessed warrior. To lighten ship throw overboard all cannon, powder, and shot. Sink Archangel Chihiro. In this weather, transferring cannon is unlikely to appear attractive. Tell captured crew they can go home.

    And what do they do with the captured Schuelerite?

  33. Drak Bibliophile says:

    George, why should they do anything ‘special’ to the captured Schuelerite?

    I saw nothing about him to say that he’s one of the evil Schuelerites.

  34. Bret Hooper says:

    @31 Danny KCW: You’re most welcome, Danny; I expected that was what you meant, but with two occurrences of the same typo (yours and Steven’s), I couldn’t resist a little good-natured kidding.

  35. Chrisd says:

    @33 – doesn’t the fact of being a “Schulerite” automatically make him evil? he volunteered for the job!
    Like members of the Gestapo, KGB, FBI, Special Branch, Spanish Inquisition etc.

  36. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Chrisd, are Paityr Wylsynn and his father evil?

    Later we’ll see another Schulerite who also isn’t an evil person.

    Please remember that Paityr’s father almost became the Grand Inquisitor.

    That wouldn’t have happened if there were not some non-evil Schulerites.

    IIRC some of the Circle are Schulerites.

    Just because most of the Schulerites we’ve seen are evil doesn’t mean *all* of them are evil.

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