The Ship's Log
Chapter 2: A Ship of State
(...Leaks from the Top)
Ternost 151: During this cold winter, the drunken hibernation of the fleet's seamen was disturbed by brief notoriety. A regular brawl in the 'Anchor & Hope' inn at Drayford resulted in the sad loss of Lieutenant Luigi Zelotti, and also of some visiting thesp by the name of Cornelius Marlowe. As senior officers of The Pugnacious were in the vicinity at the time of the brawl, we were requested by the Admiralty Board to investigate further. Since several of us had served as Midshipmen with Luigi aboard the old Allapsus, we were keen to assist.
Our investigations led us to discover the surprising contents of Biscuit Shed No.38, gain a preview of the new consortium ships, and an introduction to the hysterical world of city theatre. Our enquiries would have gone badly had we not withheld the final chapters of Marlowe's last play as evidence until and unless our enquiries were concluded. The civilians grudgingly co-operated. After a few days we were able to debrief to the Admiralty Board, whereupon we were placed under a silencing order and matters were taken up at a different level.
Chapter 3; Ship Happens
12 Galemir 152: The Pugnacious, along with her sister ships The Bellicose and The Belligerent, has been recalled to active duty by order of the Admiralty. Captain Vetturi informed the Lieutenants immediately, whereupon we set out to locate the other officers and crew. The hull of the old girl has overwintered very well on the woses, and should refloat without trouble (which is more than we can say for some of the ratings). There was a minor altercation with the crew of The Belligerent over the deposition of a "scorpion" ballista. This was resolved satisfactorily. Winds blowing mild and easterly, promising good early sailing.
13 Galemir 152: Warped the hull down the mud flats at first light, and floated her out on the morning tide. More of the crew have arrived as word spreads along the river, and work began immediately on loading ballast, re-rigging and ordering essential supplies. Both snotties have been sent out to procure a ships cat, but we fear that there will be little teamwork. The ship's carpenter, Master Haskard, was dragged away from his ingenious fittings for the scorpion long enough to inspect the rigging, and he has expressed concern over the integrity of the main mast. The Lieutenants expressed a strong desire for him to fix it. Strengthening bands are being prepared.
The Belligerent is also afloat. The Bellicose hit some debris in the mud during warp drive and awaits hull repair. It appears that our skipper has some long-standing rivalry with the captain of The Belligerent, and is keen for us to be shipshape and orderly as soon as possible.
Wind east by northeast. Moderate.
14 Galemir 152: The briefing by the Captain on our next mission correlated remarkably well with rumours going round the taverns. The Pugnacious and the Belligerent are to provide off-shore security during the launch and first sailing of the new consortium ship. Our orders also require a formal parade in the presence of Her Highness Princess Selina and her VIP guests from Linrodeth. Captain Vetturi will additionally be attending the luncheon party.
The mast has gained iron banding, and a long ladder from Old Dock has been lashed on to provide extra strength. The Midshipmen have returned; Belle gripping a disreputable and vicious alley tom, Gabriel cradling a pedigree long-haired purrer. The latter took one look at the tom and fled into the dark of the hold. The tom promptly followed. They have been named Lady and Tramp by the crew.
Spent remainder of the day attending to dress uniforms with some disruptions caused by the start of Carnevale. I fear that the crew have noted No 1's absence of humour. Lord Jasper Cornaro, nephew of our renown Admiral Caterina Cornaro, chose an unfortunate moment to approach No 1 regarding passenger berths, and was summarily dismissed. The Belligerent has gathered numerous pennants to fly in the rigging at the launching ceremony. The Pugnacious has chosen more traditional decorations of painted shields for the fore- and stern-castles.
Winds have returned easterly. Brisk.
15 Galemir 152: Wind remains easterly although horsetail clouds are streaking in from the north. The river at Kingsport is clear of ice but filling rapidly with small craft and picnickers. Several altercations about security were resolved with the aid of archers, ship's boats or bilge water. The parade passed without incident but, on our return to the ship, we noticed Belligerent's crew preparing a bouquet of early flowers. A quick visit to biscuit shed #38 yielded a gift of Lt Zellotti's last model cog (now completed) for our captain to present to Her Highness.
The launching ceremony took place on the afternoon tide. It included a blessing from the Navarch of the Esprayennan Temple, and his painting in the pupils of the decorative eyes on the bow. The last part being delayed slightly by the discovery that the Navarch's ceremonial ladder had gone missing. We added some bunting to our main mast. Her Highness Princess Selina named the ship the "Invincible" and broke a bottle of fine Kerunian red wine against the bow. The ship was floated carefully out of Old Dock and into the Ishtan, where we got a good look at her for the first time.
The proportions of these new ships are passing strange, being both higher and narrower in beam than usual. The crew were overly vocal in their opinion of her instability, and earned a stern rebuke from Captain Vetturi. The Invincible does look somewhat larger than its official designation of 500 tuns; a good 700 tuns at least. Our attention was briefly diverted by the increased activity and mishaps amongst the small boats. A number of non-swimmers were rescued from the river and placed under guard below decks. The Invincible sailed out of the estuary under our escort.
At sea The Invincible proved unexpectedly good in her early trials; manoeuvring well, staying upright and showing excellent speed when the wind filled her sails. Hereupon the wind shifted to north, north east and became much colder. Our lookout, intent on iceberg warning, spotted instead a sail on the northern horizon which was soon identified as a longship of the Noord. It was pursued with all speed by the three Navy ships and was rapidly trapped in a pincer movement until The Invincible, overshooting her mark by a considerable distance, allowed an escape route to appear. Captain Vetturi altered course instantly, but the sharp tack caused an ominous crack in the mast, and the loss of Landsman Freddi Kliff overboard. The Pugnacious placed two bolts into the longship and boarded while The Belligerent closed in. The captain of The Invincible kindly agreed that we should keep one of the mead barrels thus captured.
The Invincible made a triumphant return to Kingsport with the Noordic warship in tow (after they added the shields, it really looked like a warship). While she tied up we allowed our uninvited guests to return to dry land. The VIP party boarded The Invincible and celebrations continued long into the night, with the added enjoyment of the extra barrels of mead. The Pugnacious remained on watch and kept a lookout aloft despite the mast showing a distinct list by this stage. This was fortunate as he was able to spot the log jam moving downstream towards us in the failing light.
The lieutenants rapidly deployed boats and nets to try and slow the debris before its impact with the ships. Strangely, a few logs appeared to be moving against the current so we ordered the archers to fire into the water. The nets proved most effective with only The Pugnacious sustaining hull damage. After No 1 permitted our long-suffering lookout to descend from the near-horizontal mast, he dispatched crewmembers to investigate upstream and down. The logs were traced back to the cargo of an incredibly ancient barge which appears to have been deliberately sunk at the Erith bend. No trace of its crew were found. Where some logs washed ashore below Kingsport, traces of webbed footprints were found, along with sone handholds cut into the underside of the logs. The prints were expertly tracked by torchlight, but unfortunately disappeared into the marshes around the city. By dawn officers had established that the derelict barge had come from a location upriver of Linrodeth. A full debrief to the Admiralty resulted in the matter being taken up by diplomatic channels.
The crew awaits the speedy repair of The Pugnacious in Kingsport's Old Dock.
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