How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 06

How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 06

          Fortunately, it was the wrong time of year for the most violent form of tropical cyclone . . . which was more commonly called “hurricane.”

          Ensign Applyn-Ahrmahk didn’t need to understand all the mechanics involved in the process to read the weather signs, however. He understood the consequences of what was about to happen quite well, and he wasn’t looking forward to them. The good news was that Captain Yairley’s preparations had been made in ample time and there’d been time to double check and triple check all of them. The bad news was that the weather didn’t seem to have heard that this wasn’t hurricane season.

          Don’t be silly, he told himself firmly. This isn’t going to be a hurricane, Hektor! Things would be getting worse even faster than they are if that were the case. I think.

          “Take a party and double check the lashings on the quarter boats, Master Aplyn-Ahrmahk,” Captain Yairley said.

          “Aye, Sir!” Aplyn-Ahrmahk saluted and turned away. “Master Selkyr!”

          “Aye, Sir?” Ahntahn Selkyr, another of Destiny‘s boatswain’s mate’s, replied.

          “Let’s check the lashings on the boats,” Aplyn-Ahrmahk said, and headed purposefully aft while Selkyr mustered half a dozen hands to join him.

          “Giving the lad something to think about, Sir?” Lieutenant Lathyk asked quietly, watching the youthful ensign with a smile.

          “Oh, perhaps a little,” Yairley acknowledged with a faint smile of his own. “At the same time, it won’t hurt anything, and Master Aplyn-Ahrmahk’s a good officer. He’ll see that it’s done right.”

          “Yes, he will, Sir,” Lathyk agreed, then turned to look back at the looming mass of clouds rising higher and higher in the south. The air seemed thicker and heavier somehow, despite the freshening wind, and there was an odd tint to the light.

          “I thought you were overreacting, to be honest, Sir, when you had the topgallant masts sent down. Now” — he shrugged, his expression unhappy — “I’m not so sure you were.”

          “It’s always such a comfort to me when your judgment agrees with my own, Rhobair,” Yairley said dryly, and Lathyk chuckled. Then the captain sobered. “All the same, I don’t like the feel of this at all. And I don’t like the way the clouds are spreading to the east, as well. Mark my words, Rhobair, this thing is going to back around on us before it’s done.”

          Lathyk nodded somberly. The predominant winds tended to be from the northeast in the Gulf of Mathyas during the winter months, which would normally have lead one to expect any wind changes to veer further to the west, not to the east. Despite which, he had an unhappy suspicion that the captain was right.

          “Do you think we’ll be able to make enough easting to clear Silkiah Bay if it does back on us, Sir?”

          “Now that’s the interesting question, isn’t it?” Yairley smiled again, then turned his back on the dark horizon and watched Aplyn-Ahrmahk and his seamen inspecting the lashings which secured the boats on the quarterdeck’s davits.

“I think we’ll probably clear the mouth of the bay,” he said after a moment. “What I’m not so sure about is that we’ll be able to get into the approaches to Tabard Reach. I suppose” — he showed his teeth — “we’ll just have to find out, won’t we?”

* * * * * * * * * *

          Lightning streaked across the purple-black heavens like Langhorne’s own Rakurai. Thunder exploded like the reply of Shan-wei’s artillery, audible even through the wind-shriek and the pounding, battering fury of waves approaching thirty feet in height, and ice-cold rain hammered a man’s oilskins like a thousand tiny mallets. HMS Destiny staggered through those heavy seas, running before the wind now under no more than a single storm jib, a close-reefed main topsail, and a reefed forecourse, and Sir Dunkyn Yairley stood braced, secured to a quarterdeck lifeline by a turn around his chest, and watched the four men on the wheel fight to control his ship.

          The seas were trying to push her stern around to the east, and he was forced to carry more canvas and more weather helm than he would have preferred to hold her up. It was officially a storm now, with wind speeds hitting better than fifty-five miles per hour, and not a mere gale or even a strong gale, and he suspected it was going to get even nastier before it was over. He didn’t like showing that much of the forecourse, but he needed that lift forward. Despite which he’d have to take in both the topsail and the course and go to storm staysails alone, if the wind got much worse. He needed to get as far east as he could, though, and reducing sail would reduce his speed, as well. Deciding when to make that change — and making it before he endangered his ship — was going to be as much a matter of instinct as anything else, and he wondered why the possibility of being driven under and drowned caused him so much less concern than the possibility of losing legs or arms to enemy round shot.

          The thought made him chuckle, and while none of the helmsmen could have heard him through the shrieking tumult and the waterfall beating of icy rain, they saw his fleeting smile and looked at one another with smiles of their own.

          He didn’t notice as he turned and peered into the murk to the northwest. By his best estimate, they’d made roughly twenty-five miles, possibly thirty, since the visibility closed in. If so, Destiny was now about two hundred miles southeast of Ahna’s Point and four hundred and sixty miles southeast of Silk Town. It also put him only about a hundred and twenty miles south of Garfish Bank, however, and his smile disappeared as he pictured distances and bearings from the chart in his mind. He’d made enough easting to avoid being driven into Silkiah Bay — probably — if the wind did back, but he needed at least another two hundred and fifty miles, preferably more like three hundred — before he’d have Tabard Reach under his lee, and he didn’t like to think about how many ships had come to grief on Garfish Bank or in Scrabble Sound behind it.

          But that’s not going to happen to my ship, he told himself, and tried to ignore the prayerful note in his own thought.

* * * * * * * * * *

          “Hands aloft to reduce sail!”

          The order was barely audible through the howl of wind and the continuous drum roll of thunder, but the grim-faced topmen didn’t have to hear the command. They knew exactly what they faced . . . and exactly what it was going to be like up there on the yards, and they looked at one another with forced smiles.

          “Up you go, lads!”

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22 Responses to How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 06

  1. Nimitz13 says:

    And so with the first line of this snippet, the entire hurricane discussion becomes moot. Never speculate too soon!

    Hurricane or not, they’re worried about the wind shifting to the East, forcing them into Silkiah Bay. And now we hear about Garfish Bank and Scrabble Sound. These aren’t on the AMF maps on Amazon. Do any other maps show them?

    The site of the shipwreck is looking less hospitable all the time…

  2. JN says:

    I suspect our young Duke will soon be master of a ship.

    J

  3. max says:

    I’m a romantic, I’d sooner see Hektor be the prince consort of Corisande ^^.

  4. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Well, I wouldn’t want to be the person responsible for Irys taking the throne of Corisande.

    Her little brother is the heir and she loves him dearly. [Grin]

  5. PeterZ says:

    Nimitz13, if one waits too long, its not speculation, its that annoying habbit of restating the obvious. :-)

  6. RobertHuntingdon says:

    @Drak… but that’s just the point. If Irys and Hektor must end up taking the throne, that means her little brother was murdered. If it can be proven it was at the behest of Clyntahn this time, she might just make a really nasty problem for the CoGA in a few years…

    Honestly, what I’d prefer to see is for something to happen to force Siddarmark to get off its duff and side with the good guys. Which might well mean shipwreck and then these “heretics” getting seized by the Inquisition… or at least attempted. Perhaps some of the local clergy manage to stop it somehow? That would possibly be a good first step. Or perhaps they attempt to stop it and fail, and the grisly murders of both the “heretics” and these faithful, decent priests is enough to fan the rage of Siddarmark to the levels it needs to reach?

    Probably not. But it’s still fun to speculate anyway.

  7. hank says:

    *If* Our Hektor winds up cast away on the shores of Siddarmark (or Silkiah) there’s another possibilty no one seems to have mentioned yet: He could be rescued by somebody from the remnants of Madame Phonda’s mainland organization (or the Circle’s) or even some successor body that has been founded (with Phonda’s aid?) since last we checked in…
    I should think that getting something like that going would be somewhat of a priority, if only to cover up how improbably (barring Demonic aid) good Charisian intell is.

  8. jgarland says:

    Unfortunately, this snippet really doesn’t move the plot ahead :-( …we’re stuck at “Storms’a comin'”! I hope we get beyond and see what the consequences of the storm are reasonably soon.

    Or, move on to a different plot line, which is probably more likely.

  9. Barb in MD says:

    OK, I now confess to being lost on the map. According to the map of Safehold that I have found,(http://infodump.thefifthimperium.com/entry/Safehold/232/1) The Gulf of Mathyas and Silkiah Bay are separated by the whacking great piece of land! No way to easily sail from one to the other. So, is there a revised map out there? or is Weber doing his usual not paying attention to details?
    This inquiring mind wants to know. Thanks in advance.

  10. dcchipper says:

    Does it seem like the Charisian navy is having run of bad luck with major storms that are unseasonable or is it just me?

  11. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Dcchipper, it’s just you. [Wink]

    Seriously, if you study naval history, you’ll find that the sea is the greatest enemy of any navy.

    If the Charisian Navy never faced major storms, then this series would be very unrealistic.

  12. PeterZ says:

    @9 Barb, follow this link. This map is in the HC of AMF. I believe that’s the most accurate map. This link is for those who dop not have the hard copy.

    http://www.amazon.com/Mighty-Fortress-Safehold-Book/dp/076531505X/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1307974076&sr=1-2#reader_076531505X

    @10 David’s gotta make this suspenseful, dcchipper. The other navies don’t have the skill or the equiptment, so weather is the only tool available. When a navy is deployed as constantly as the ICN, weather issues will have an inordinatly high impact on its ships.

  13. tootall says:

    The other bit to consider is that DW can’t have the “bad guys” ships come to weather grief if some of the “good guys” don’t suffer the same problems.

  14. jgarland says:

    “Wear and tear” was a tremendous consideration for Nelson as he stayed at sea month after month in all sorts of tryng to trap the various French fleets.

  15. jgarland says:

    “all sorts of weathers and seas” obviously

  16. PeterZ says:

    The next snippet ends with the wind turning back towards the west, I bet.
    All ashore that’s going ashore!

  17. summertime says:

    Drak B: I have read 1812 and am reading 1824. Amazing and informative. I had to read up on the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans in order to find out how the books differed from real history. Do you know if Eric Flint plans to add to this series, or will it be only the two books?

  18. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Summertime, Eric has a contract with Baen Books to write more books in that series.

    The problem for Eric is that he has so much “on his plate” that even he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to write more books in that world. [Smile]

    By the way, I’d love to see more books in that world as well. [Grin]

  19. WP says:

    If there is a shipwreck at least rescue can be there sooner than would ordinarily be the case. Whether that is soon enough is another question. Of course, If I was Merlin or one of the inner circle, they can start things in motion. They need more ship captains in the innermost circle for many reasons and this is just one.

  20. WP says:

    That should be “If I was Merlin or one of the inner circle, I would start things in motion.” Rescue things, that is. For all three of the squadron. That could include alerting Phonda’s people. Of course, she gets a free pass into the inner circle. Her agents are used to her working wonders, or at least they should be.

    I think it is time for more operatives to join up. At least, below the level of planner.

  21. PeterZ says:

    As I said in after an earlier snippet, I think its time to separate Merlin and Cayleb/Sharley for some extended period of time. This may just be the reason to do it.

  22. Bret Hooper says:

    @17&18 summertime and Drak: I, too, would love to see another book or two in that series; either a sequel (1836?) or a prequel, maybe about the Revolution, perhaps centering on Benedict Arnold and/or Francis Marion and/or Philip Schuyler. But I would rather have more 163x and/or a sequel to The Sorceress of Karres.

    @19&20 WP: No, that should be “If I were Merlin or one of the inner circle, . . .” “were,” not “was” because the if clause is contrary to fact. You are NOT Merlin or . . . .

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