How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 14



How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 14

Unfortunately, poor Zhones clearly wasn’t going to be able to keep the stew down. He’d contented himself by devouring his share of the precious bread one slow, savoring mouthful at a time, washing it down with the sweet, strong chocolate. Now he looked up as Aplyn-Ahrmahk’s mug slid in front of him.

“I –” he began, but Aplyn-Ahrmahk shook his head.

“Consider it a trade,” he said cheerfully, snagging Zhones’ untouched stew bowl and pulling it closer. “Like Trahvys says, I’ve got an iron stomach. You don’t. Besides, the sugar’ll do you good.”

Zhones looked at him for a moment, then nodded.

“Thanks,” he said a bit softly.

Aplyn-Ahrmahk waved the gratitude away and scooped up another spoonful of the stew. It really was tasty, and —

“All hands!” The shout echoed down from the deck above. “All hands!”

By the time Aplyn-Ahrmahk’s spoon settled into the stew once more, he was already halfway up the ladder to the upper deck.

* * * * * * * * * *

          It took all the self-discipline Sir Dunkyn Yairley had learned in thirty-five years at sea to not swear out loud as his earlier thoughts about his improvised rudder ran back through his mind.

          I suppose the good news is that we’re still two hundred yards offshore, he told himself. That gives us a little more room to play with . . . and if the spar’s just long enough to keep the tubs out from under her, they may still work, anyway. Of course, they may not, too . . . .

          He watched Destiny‘s company completing his highly unusual preparations with frenzied, disciplined speed, and he hoped there’d be time.

          Of course there’ll be time, Dunkyn. You’ve got a remarkable talent for finding things to worry about, don’t you? He shook his head mentally, keeping himself physically motionless with his hands clasped behind him. Just keep your tunic on!

          “Another six or seven minutes, Sir!” Rhobair Lathyk promised, and Yairley nodded, turning to watch the longboat fighting its way back towards the ship.

          He’d hated sending Mahlyk and Aplyn-Ahrmahk back out, but they were clearly the best team for the job, as they’d just finished demonstrating. Two of the ensign’s seamen had gone over the side while they struggled to get the bitter end of the spring nipped onto the buoyed anchor cable. Unlike most Safeholdian sailors, Charisian seamen by and large swam quite well, but not even the best of swimmers was the equal of waters like these. Fortunately, Aplyn-Ahrmahk had insisted on lifelines for every member of the longboat’s crew, and the involuntary swimmers had been hauled back aboard by their fellows. From the looks of things, one of them had needed artificial respiration, but both of them were sitting up now, huddled in the half-foot of water sloshing around the floorboards as the thirty-foot boat clawed its way back towards the galleon.

          “Lines over the side, Master Lathyk,” Yairley said, looking back at the first lieutenant. “There’s not going to be time to recover the boat. Bring them up on lines and then cast it adrift.” He bared his teeth. “Assuming any of us get out of this alive, we can always find ourselves another longboat, can’t we?”

          “Assuming, Sir,” Lathyk agreed, but he also grinned hugely. It was the same way he grinned when the ship cleared for action, Yairley noted.

          “Cheerful bugger, aren’t you?” he observed mildly, and Lathyk laughed.

          “Can’t say I’m looking forward to it, Sir, but there’s no point fretting, now is there? And at least it ought to be damned interesting! Besides, with all due respect, you’ve never gotten us into a fix yet that you couldn’t get us back out of.”

          “I appreciate the vote of confidence. On the other hand, this is the sort of thing you usually only get one opportunity to do wrong,” Yairley pointed out in a dry tone.

          “True enough, Sir,” Lathyk agreed cheerfully. “And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go see about losing that longboat for you.”

          He touched his chest in salute and moved off across the pitching, rearing deck, and Yairley shook his head. Lathyk was one of those officers who grew increasingly informal and damnably cheerful as the situation grew more desperate. That wasn’t Sir Dunkyn Yairley’s style, yet, he had to admit Lathyk’s optimism (which might even be genuine) made him feel a little better.

          He turned back to the matter at hand, trying not to worry about the possibility that one or more of the longboat’s crew could still be crushed against Destiny‘s side or fall into the water to be sucked under the turn of the bilge and drowned. It helped that he had plenty of other things to worry about.

          The never-to-be-sufficiently-damned wind had decided to back still further, and it had done so with appalling speed after holding almost steady for over four hours. It was almost as if it had deliberately set out to lull him into a sense of confidence just to make the final ambush more disconcerting. For four hours, Destiny had lain to her anchors, bucking and rolling but holding her ground despite his sailing notes’ warnings about the nature of Scrabble Sound’s bottom. But then, in less than twenty minutes, the wind had backed another five full points — almost sixty degrees — from southeast-by-south to due east, and the galleon had weathervaned, turning to keep her bow pointed into it, which meant her stern was now pointed directly at Ahna’s Point. The speed with which the wind had shifted also meant that the seas continued to roll in from the southeast, not the east, pounding her starboard bow, which had radically shifted the forces and stresses affecting her . . . and her anchors. Now the wind was driving her towards Ahna’s Point; the seas were driving her towards Scrabble Shoal; and her larboard anchor cable had parted completely.

          Must be even rockier than I was afraid of over there, Yairley thought now, looking at the bobbing buoy marking the lost anchor’s position. That was an almost new cable, and it was wormed, parceled, and served, to boot!

          “Worming” was the practice of working oakum into the contlines, the surface depressions between the strands of the cable. “Parceling” wrapped the entire cable in multi-ply strips of canvas, and the boatswain had served the entire “shot” of cable by covering the parceling, in turn, in tightly wrapped coils of one-inch rope. All of that was designed to protect the cable against fraying and chafing . . . and the rough-edged bottom had obviously chewed its way through all precautions anyway.

          Fortunately, the cables to the starboard bower anchor and the sheet anchor Aplyn-Ahrmahk and Mahlyk had laid out hadn’t snapped — yet, at least — but both of them were finally beginning to drag the way he’d been more than half afraid they would from the outset. It was a slow process, but it was also one which was gathering speed. At the present rate, Destiny would go ashore within the next two hours at the outside.

          At least the tide’s nearly full, he reminded himself. It’d be better if we had the ebb to work with, but at least the current’s slowed and we’ve got as much water under the keel as we’re ever likely to have.

          He watched the longboat’s crew struggling one-by-one up and through the bulwark entry port. Aplyn-Ahrmahk, of course, came last, and Yairley felt at least one of his worries ease as the young ensign scrambled aboard.

          “Master Lathyk’s compliments, Sir,” Midshipman Zhones said, sliding to a stop in front of him and saluting, “and the boat crew’s been recovered. And all preparations for getting underway are completed.”

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25 Responses to How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 14

  1. Elim Garak says:

    … OK, so the ship broke off one of the anchor cables, and is now going to leave. It’s in trouble because the other two anchors are dragging. Why should we care about that in this (supposedly) sci-fi book? Come on, let’s get on with the story! If I wanted to read a sailing ship sea adventure, I could have picked up Sea Wolf, Captain Blood, Horatio Hornblower, or any number of other stories.

    If we are going to follow essentially 17th century seamen throughout the entire book with this much nautical detail, I may cancel my pre-order, and wait for the paperback version. Or pick up the book second-hand. Because this is frankly rather boring to me.

  2. jedd says:

    Exactly how saline is saltwater on Safehold? Is is less than human isotonic? If so you can drink it…

  3. Nimitz13 says:

    On the “bright” side we might finally get that shipwreck we’ve been expecting for the last 11 snippets! ;)

  4. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Jedd, in the first book, Archbishop Dynnys thinks about a situation in Safehold history where a ship had major problems but the crew was able to get fresh water from rain water.

    If sea water was drinkable, that crew would not have needed to use rain water.

    Elim, this section is almost over. The Friday snippet will be set elsewhere and won’t involve “sea adventures”.

  5. Aenea says:

    @1 sheesh calm down. All the snippets to now covers barely 5 pages in an 800+ page book.

    Although makes me wonder if Merlin has thought about re-tasking the works of Jules Verne and other late 19th century authors to work in the current Safeholdian environment. I mean all the laws and proscriptions are about PHYSICAL technology not wild flights of what if that just so happens to be the foundations of all current modern science fiction. Well that would just require an automated printing press for more bibles now wouldn’t it and with all that downtime after printing them wouldn’t it be put to use printing ‘other’ things?

  6. robert says:

    @5 The book is, per Amazon, 600 pages, but your point is still well taken. The snippets are incredibly short even though we sometimes get half a book snippeted prior to publication. I was away for over three weeks when the snippets started and the 12 snippets I missed took about 10 minutes to read, including getting to the next one, which is kinda clumsy on this site.
    @1 This series is, by the nature of the premise, the geography of the planet and the terra-forming that was done, just as much a seafaring adventure as it is a Sci-Fi book. Go read Alan Dean Foster’s Icerigger trilogy. Weber is just a bit wordier than most SF writers (heh).

  7. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Rough guesstimate on my part, but I’ll be snippeting about one fourth of it.

    Some of us remember our “mutterings” about getting over three fourths of an earlier Safehold book. [Wink]

  8. PeterZ says:

    Hmmmm. I guess this is not the time to expound on the difficulties of riding a following sea while sailing a close reach in a square rigger during a tropical storm steering with a jurry rigged rudder.

    OK then, well I told y’all so! Destiny is going to Silk Town! Nya nya. In the last snippet before a scene change just imagine Verdi’s Winter palying in the background. The shivering violins accentuating the worry of those casks tangling under the ship while the wicked-wind wants to beach Destiny on the western shore.

  9. Maggie says:

    …and for our background music as the crew gets underway we have the Orpheus Glasgow Women’s Chorus singing the same numbers given us in the titles for “The Edge of The World” (1937).

  10. PeterZ says:

    @7 Drak, that snippeting was a blast! 3 times the opportunity to blather about our guesses. Of course, once the book came it was a bit of a let down. Still, get your jollies early one way or abstain and enjoy the book more by yourself. I wouldn’t mind a longer book and similar number of snippets but only revealing your 25% or so. Which this sounds very much like will be the case.

  11. PeterZ says:

    Maggie, I searched for that music all morning. Do you have a link with a sample? All I get is a webpage without an audio sample.

  12. robert says:

    @8 Peter Z: Vivaldi’s “Winter”? Or maybe you meant Verdi’s “Requiem” (hope not) or the opening of his Otello when the storm threatens the ships trying to reach harbor? Great organ pedal tone there.

  13. robert says:

    @1 From the description of the Safehold series on DWs website’s Forums page:

    “This fascinating series is a combination of historical seafaring, swashbuckling adventure, and high technological science-fiction. Join us in a discussion!”

    So that’s what you are getting… Who knew?

  14. PeterZ says:

    Thanks Robert. Miswrote, I did mean Vivaldi’s Wineter.

  15. The list of directions sound to make it difficult to avoid getting blown ashore. Is the plan to sail sideways in a tacking position? That sound rough on the improvised rudder.

  16. I am happy with science fiction set in an earlier technical era.

  17. Nimitz13 says:

    It appears more and more likely they’re headed for a shipwreck. They CANNOT go to Silktown – their orders stipulate they MUST stay out of Silkian Bay so as not to blow the cover on the wink wink nudge nudge “Sidarmarkian” and “Silkian” cargo ships with Charisian crews. From snippet 5: “Anything so blatant as the intrusion of a regular Charisian warship into Silkiah Bay could all too easily inspire Clyntahn to the sort of rage which would bring a screeching end to that highly lucrative, mutually profitable arrangement, and Yairley had to be extraordinarily careful about avoiding any appearance of open collusion between his command and the Silkiahans.”

    They’re stuck with a 3000 mile voyage to the nearest friendly port near Tarot. But it looks like that voyage won’t even get started, and now the longboat is gone so a bunch more crew is gonna die.

    Destiny is going to break up on the shore, and the survivors will most likely be picked up by the Desnarian navy, which offers all sorts of options plot-wise, although 6 Charisian galleons are 4-5 days away. So I guess the shootout we wanted isn’t going to happen. Just soggy, cold survivors sitting on a rocky beach, wondering who will “rescue” them. Better to perish on the beach than fall into the hands of the inquisition.

  18. Maggie says:

    @11 : Sorry, PeterZ, can’t find a link, but if you have Netflix, you can stream “The Edge Of The World” on Instant Play. The choruses for both the beginning and end titles are what I had in mind. Don’t know if Silkiah looks much like the Orkneys, but the music really fits the situation of land at the end of storm & peril!

    Vivaldi is far too civilized for the situation…

  19. PeterZ says:

    Well, Maggie, I do have a much more optimistic view of what will transpire. Vivaldi is more of a tease of bad things on the horizon not a promise of doom. Nimitz13 has been at the celery too often and forgets he lives near that psychiatric hospital. That’s too depressing to deal with especially with his heightened emphatic senses. Sir Dunkyn will see to his people first and manage the situation in Silkiah as best he can. I suspect he knows that the mainland need for Charisian goods is too great. They will find some way, even if the current system falls apart.

    I don’t have Netflix so, I’ll try to weasel that clip from somewhere else.

    JGarland, I just started Master and Commander. I guffawed at the dinner between Aubrey and Maturin. You really do have to earn some of the humor. Thanks for the recommendation.

  20. robert says:

    @18 Maggie: which one?

    1.The Edge of the World (1937)
    2.The Edge of the World (2005)
    3.The Edge of the World (2009)

    The last one is a 5 minute short from Australia, the first is a Michael Powell film about life changes in the Shetlands, and the middle one is a bit of a stinker about an old crime.

    @19 Yay! Another O’Brian convert in the making.

  21. Maggie says:

    @20 1937. A Michael Powell masterpiece!

  22. Mike says:

    I haven’t seen Edge of the World, but I would like to. I’ve seen some clips from it in a documentary on The Archers.

  23. Doug Lampert says:

    @Nimitz13, Captain Yardley clearly doesn’t think a wreck is unavoidable or he’d NEVER throw away a perfectly good longboat.

    He’s in a hurry because he thinks it’s likely that the ship can still be saved. Otherwise he’d have been evacuating crew into the longboat rather than bringing them back aboard and abandoning the longboat.

  24. Nimitz13 says:

    @19 Bleek!

  25. Nimitz13 says:

    @19 Celery so delicious! Have some for Nimitz13?

    Song of two-legs on floating tree, head-fur cold and wet is sad. Two-legs Drak says next song about other place, happy to hear new song where teeth can bite and claws can rip!

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