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STICKY: How Firm a Foundation Snippets

This is the place where we will be posting snippets of soon-to-be published works!
Re: STICKY: How Firm a Foundation Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:21 pm

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How Firm A Foundation - Snippet 10

"Aye, Sir." Lathyk nodded soberly. The good news was that Scrabble Sound ran almost a hundred and twenty miles south to north, which gave them that much sea room before they ran into the eastern face of Ahna's Point or into Scrabble Shoal, itself. The bad news was that from their current position they couldn't possibly clear Sand Shoal at the western edge of Scrabble Pass, the mouth of the sound. . . and even if they had, it would only have been to allow the wind to drive them into Silkiah Bay instead of Scrabble Sound.

"Go about, Sir?" he asked. "On the starboard tack we might just be able to hold a course across the sound for Fishhook Strait."

Fishhook Strait, roughly a hundred miles north of their current position, was the passage between Scrabble Sound and the northern reaches of the Gulf of Mathyas.

"I'm thinking the same thing," Yairley confirmed, "but not until we're past the southern end of the bank. And even then -- " he met Lathyk's eyes levelly " -- with this wind, the odds are we'll have to anchor, instead."

"Aye, Sir." Lathyk nodded. "I'll see to the anchors now, should I?"

"I think that would be an excellent idea, Master Lathyk," Yairley replied with a wintry smile.

* * * * * * * * * *

"I don't like this one bit, Zhaksyn," Hector Aplyn-Ahrmahk admitted quietly several hours later. Or as quietly as he could and still make himself heard at the main topmast crosstrees, at any rate. He was peering ahead through his spyglass as he spoke, and the line of angry white water reaching out from the barely visible gray mass of the mainland stretched squarely across Destiny's bowsprit. He had to hold on to his perch rather more firmly than usual. Although the wind had eased still further, Scrabble Sound was a shallow, treacherous body of water. Its wave action could be severe -- especially with a southeasterly blowing straight into it -- and the masts' motion was enough to make even Aplyn-Ahrmahk dizzy.

"Not much about it to like, if you'll pardon my saying so, Sir," the lookout perched at the crosstrees with him replied.

"No. No, there isn't." Aplyn-Ahrmahk lowered the glass with a sigh, then slung it over his shoulder once more. He started to reach for the back stay again, then stopped himself and looked at the lookout. "Best not, I suppose."

"Better safe nor sorry, Sir," Zhaksyn agreed with a grin. "Specially seeing as how the First Lieutenant's on deck."

"Exactly what I was thinking myself." Aplyn-Ahrmahk patted the seaman on the shoulder and started down the more sedate path of the shrouds.

"Well, Master Aplyn-Ahrmahk?" Captain Yairley asked calmly when he reached the quarterdeck. The captain's valet stood at his side, improbably neatly groomed even under these circumstances, and Yairley held a huge mug of tea between his hands. The steam from the hot liquid whipped away on the wind before anyone had a chance to see it, but its warmth felt comforting against his palms, and he raised it to inhale its spicy scent while he waited for Aplyn-Ahrmahk's report. The steep-sided crest of Ahna's Point was visible from deck level, however, which meant he already had an unfortunately good notion of what the ensign was about to say.

"White water clear across the bow, Sir," Aplyn-Ahrmahk confirmed with a salute. "All the way from the coast" -- his left arm gestured in a northwesterly direction -- "to a good five points off the starboard bow." His arm swung in an arc from northwest to east-northeast, and Yairley nodded.

"Thank you, Master Aplyn-Ahrmahk," he said in that same calm tone, and took a reflective sip of tea. Then he turned to Lieutenant Lathyk.

"The depth?"

"The lead shows twenty-four fathoms, Sir. And shoaling."

Yairley nodded. Twenty-four fathoms -- a hundred and forty-four feet -- accorded relatively well with the sparse (and unreliable) depths recorded on his less-than-complete charts. But Destiny drew just over twenty feet at normal load, and the leadsman was undoubtedly right about the decreasing depth. By all accounts Scrabble Sound shoaled rapidly, and that meant those hundred and forty-four feet could disappear quickly.

"I think we'll anchor, Master Lathyk."

"Aye, Sir."

"Then call the hands."

"Aye, Sir! Master Symmyns! Hands to anchor!"

"Hands to anchor, aye, aye, Sir!"

Bosun's pipes shrilled as the hands raced to their stations. Both of the bower anchors had been made ready hours ago in anticipation of exactly this situation. The canvas hawse-plugs which normally kept water from entering through the hawseholes during violent weather had been removed. The anchor cables, each just over six inches in diameter and nineteen inches in circumference, had been gotten up through the forward hatch, led through the open hawseholes, and bent to the anchors. A turn of each cable had been taken around the riding bitts, the heavy upright timbers just abaft the foremast, before fifty fathoms of cable were flaked down, and the upper end of the turn led down through the hatch to the cable tier where the remainder of the cable was stored. The anchors themselves had been gotten off of the fore-channels and hung from the catheads, and a buoy had been made fast to the ring of each anchor.

Under the current circumstances, there was nothing "routine" about anchoring, and Yairley handed the empty mug to Sylvyst Raigly, then stood with his hands clasped behind him, lips pursed in a merely thoughtful expression while he contemplated the state of the bottom.

His charts for Scrabble Sound were scarcely anything he would have called reliable. The sound wasn't particularly deep (which helped to account for how violent the seas remained even though the wind had continued to drop), but the chart showed only scattered lines of soundings. He could only guess at the depths between them, and according to his sailing notes, the sound contained quite a few completely uncharted pinnacles of rock. Those same notes indicated a rocky bottom, with unreliable holding qualities, which wasn't something he wanted to hear about at this particular moment. Almost as bad, a rocky bottom posed a significant threat that his anchor cables would chafe and fray as they dragged on the bottom.

Beggars can't be choosers, Dunkyn, he reminded himself, glancing as casually as possible at the angry white confusion of surf where the heavy seas pounded the rocky, steeply rising beach below Ahna's Point or surged angrily above Scrabble Shoal. There was no way Destiny could possibly weather the shoal under these wind conditions. She was firmly embayed, trapped on a lee shore with no option but to anchor until wind and weather moderated enough for her to work her way back out.

Well, at least you managed to stay out of Silkiah Bay, he reminded himself, and snorted in amusement.

"All hands, bring ship to anchor!" Lathyk bellowed the preparatory order as the last of the hands fell in at his station, and Yairley drew a deep breath.

"Hands aloft to shorten sail!" he ordered, and watched the topmen swarm aloft.

"Stand by to take in topsails and courses! Man clewlines and buntlines!"

Clewlines and buntlines were slipped off their belaying pins as the assigned hands tailed onto them.

"Haul taut! In topsails! Up foresail and mainsail!"
*
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Re: STICKY: How Firm a Foundation Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sun Jun 26, 2011 8:58 pm

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How Firm A Foundation - Snippet 11

The canvas disappeared, drawing up like great curtains for the waiting topmen to fist it in and gasket it to the yards. Yairley felt Destiny's motion change as she lost the driving force of the huge square sails and continued ahead under jib and spanker alone. She became heavier, less responsive under the weight of the pounding seas as she lost speed through the water.

"Stand clear of the starboard cable! Cock-bill the starboard anchor!"

The shank painter, which had secured the crown of the anchor to the ship's side, was cast off, letting the anchor hang vertically from the starboard cathead, its broad flukes dragging the water and threatening to swing back against the hull as the broken waves surged against the ship.

"Let go the starboard anchor!"

A senior petty officer cast off the ring stopper, the line passed through the ring of the anchor to suspend it from the cathead, and threw himself instantly flat on the deck as the anchor plunged and the free end of the stopper came flying back across the bulwark with a fearsome crack. The cable flaked on deck went thundering through the hawsehole, seasoned wood smoking with friction heat despite the all-pervasive spray as the braided hemp ran violently out while Destiny continued ahead, "sailing out" her cable.

"Stream the starboard buoy!"

The anchor buoy -- a sealed float attached to the starboard anchor by a hundred-and-fifty-foot line -- was released. It plunged into the water, following the anchor. If the cable parted, the buoy would still mark the anchor's location, and its line was heavy enough that the anchor could be recovered by it.

"Stand clear of the larboard cable! Cock-bill the anchor!"

Yairley watched men with buckets of seawater douse the smoking starboard cable. Another moment or two and --

Destiny staggered. The galleon lurched, the men at the wheel were hurled violently to the deck, and Yairley's head came up as a dull, crunching shock ran through the deck underfoot. For a moment, she seemed to hang in place, then there was a second crunch and she staggered onward, across whatever she'd struck.

"Away carpenter's party!" Lieutenant Lathyk shouted, and the carpenter and his mates bolted for the main hatchway, racing below to check for hull damage, but Yairley had other things on his mind. Whatever else had happened, it was obvious he'd just lost his rudder. He hoped it was only temporary, but in the meantime . . .

"Down jib! Haul out the spanker!

The jib disappeared, settling down to be gathered in by the hands on the bowsprit. Without the thrust of the rudder, Yairley couldn't maintain the heading he'd originally intended. He'd planned to sail parallel to the shore while he dropped both anchors for the widest purchase possible on the treacherous bottom, but the drag of the cable still thundering out of her starboard hawsehole was already forcing Destiny's head up to the wind. The pounding seas continued to thrust her bodily sideways to larboard, though, and he wanted to get as far away from whatever they'd struck -- probably one of those Shan-wei-damned uncharted rocks -- as possible before he released the second anchor.

Fifty fathoms of cable had run out to the first anchor, and the ship was slowing, turning all the way back through the wind under the braking effect of the cable's drag. She wasn't going to carry much farther, he decided.

"Let go the larboard anchor!"

The second anchor plunged, and the pounding vibration of heavy hemp hawsers hammered through the ship's fabric as both cables ran out.

"Stream the larboard buoy!"

The larboard anchor buoy went over the side, and then the starboard cable came up against the riding bitt and the cable stoppers -- a series of lines "nipped" to the anchor cable and then made fast to purchases on deck -- came taut, preventing any more it from veering. The ship twitched, but enough slack had veered that she didn't stop moving immediately, and the larboard cable continued running out for several more seconds. Then it, too, came up against its bitt and stoppers and Destiny came fully head to the wind and began drifting slowly to leeward until the tautening cables' counterbalanced tension could stop her. It looked as if she'd come-to at least two hundred yards from shore, and they could use the capstans to equalize the amount of cable veered to each anchor once they were sure both were holding. In the meantime . . . .

Yairley had already turned to the wheel. Fhranklyn Waigan was back on his feet, although one of his assistants was still on the deck with an unnaturally bent arm which was obviously broken. As Yairley looked, the petty officer turned the wheel easily with a single hand and grimaced.

"Nothin', Sir." He'd somehow retained a wad of chewleaf, and he spat a disgusted stream of brown juice into the spittoon fixed to the base of the binnacle. "Nothin' at all."

"I see." Yairley nodded. He'd been afraid of that, and he wondered just how bad the damage actually was. If he'd simply lost the tiller or fractured the rudderhead, repair would be relatively straightforward . . . probably. That was the reason Destiny carried an entire spare tiller, after all. Even if the rudderhead had been entirely wrung off, leaving nothing to attach the tiller to, they could still rig chains to the rudder itself just above the waterline and steer with tackles. But he doubted they'd been that fortunate, and if the rudder was entirely gone . . . .

He turned as Lathyk arrived on the quarterdeck.

"Both anchors seem to be holding, Sir," the first lieutenant said, touching his chest in salute. "For now, at least."

"Thank you, Master Lathyk," Yairley said sincerely, although he really wished the lieutenant had been able to leave off his last four words. "I suppose the next order of business is --"

"Beg your pardon, Sir." Yairley turned his head the other way to face Maikel Symmyns, Destiny's boatswain.

"Yes, Bosun?"

"Fraid the entire rudder's gone, Sir." Symmyns grimaced. "Can't be certain yet, but it looks to me as if the gudgeons've been stripped clean away, as well."

"Better and better, Bosun," Yairley sighed, and the weathered, salt-and-pepper haired Symmyns smiled grimly. The boatswain was the ship's senior noncommissioned officer, and he'd first gone to sea as a ship's boy when he was only six years old. There was very little he hadn't seen in the ensuing fifty years.

"Beg pardon, Captain." Yet another voice spoke, and Yairley found one of the ship's carpenter's mates at his elbow.

"Yes?"

"Master Mahgail's compliments, Sir, and we're making water aft. Master Mahgail says as how it looks like we've started at least a couple of planks, but nothing the pumps can't handle. Most likely stripped a lot of the copper, though, and the rudder post's cracked clean through. And he asks if he can have a few more hands to help inspect the rest of the hull."

"I see." Yairley gazed at him for a moment, then nodded. "My compliments to Master Mahgail. Tell him I appreciate the report, and that I look forward to more complete information as it comes to him. Master Lathyk," he looked at the first lieutenant, "see to it that Master Mahgail has all the hands he needs."

"Aye, Sir."

"Very well, then." Yairley drew a deep breath, clasped his hands behind him once more, and squared his shoulders. "Let's be about it," he said.
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
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Re: STICKY: How Firm a Foundation Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:18 pm

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

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How Firm A Foundation - Snippet 12

.IV.
HMS Destiny, 54,
Off Scrabble Shoal,
Grand Duchy of Silkiah

"Pull, you lazy bastards!" Stywyrt Mahlyk, Sir Dunkyn Yairley's personal coxswain, shouted as the thirty-foot longboat porpoised its way through the confused waves and spray like a seasick kraken. Hector Aplyn-Ahrmahk, crouching in the bow and hanging on for dear life while Destiny's starboard sheet anchor weighted down the longboat's stern and accentuated the boat's . . . lively movement, thought Mahlyk sounded appallingly cheerful under the circumstances.

"Think this is a blow?!" the coxswain demanded of the laboring oarsmen in scoffing tones as the boat's forward third went briefly airborne across a wave crest, then slammed back down again. "Why, you sorry Delferahkan excuses for sailor men! I've farted worse weather than this!"

Despite their exertion and the spray soaking them to the skin, one or two of the oarsmen actually managed a laugh. Mahlyk was amazingly popular with Destiny's crew, despite his slavedriver mentality where Captain Yairley's cutter was concerned. At the moment, he'd traded in the cutter for the larger and more seaworthy longboat, but he'd brought along the cutter's crew, and there was no insult to which he could lay his tongue that didn't make them smile. In point of fact, his crew took simple pride in his ability to out-swear any other member of the ship's company when the mood took him.

Which, alas, it did far more often than not, if the truth be known, especially when the captain wasn't about.

He and Aplyn-Ahrmahk were old friends, and the ensign remembered an incendiary raid on an Emeraldian port in which he and Mahlyk had torched a half-dozen warehouses and at least two taverns. They'd tossed incendiaries into three galleons, as well, as he recalled, but they hadn't been the only ones firing the ships, so they couldn't claim solo credit for them. Their current expedition was somewhat less entertaining than that one had been, but it was certainly no less exciting.

The longboat swooped up another steep wave, leaving Aplyn-Ahrmahk's stomach briefly behind, and the ensign turned to look back at the galleon. Destiny pitched and rolled to her bower anchors with all the elegance of a drunken pig, masts and yards spiraling crazily against the clouds. She looked truncated and incomplete with her upper masts struck, but she was still one of the most beautiful things he'd ever seen. More importantly at the moment, Lieutenant Lathyk stood on the forecastle, a semaphore flag tucked under his arm, watching the boat from under a shading palm while Lieutenant Symkee used one of the new sextants the Royal College had recently introduced as a successor to the old back staff to measure the angle between the longboat and the buoys marking the positions of the bower anchors. As Aplyn-Ahrmahk watched, Lathyk took the flag from under his arm and raised it slowly over his head.

"Ready, Mahlyk!" the ensign called.

"Aye, Sir!" the coxswain acknowledged, and reached for the lanyard with his left hand while his right fist gripped the tiller bar. Another minute passed. Then another. Then --

The flag in Lathyk's hand waved.

"Let go!" Aplyn-Ahrmahk shouted, and the longboat surged suddenly as Mahlyk jerked the lanyard which toggled the trigger and released the three-ton sheet anchor from the heavy davit rigged in the longboat's stern. It plunged into the water, well up to windward of the more weatherly of the two anchors Destiny had already dropped, and the longboat seemed to shake itself in delight at having shed the irksome load.

"Stream the buoy!" Aplyn-Ahrmahk ordered, and the anchor buoy was heaved over the side behind the sheet anchor.

Although the longboat moved much more easily without the anchor's hanging weight and the drag of the cable trailing astern, there were still a few tricky moments as Mahlyk brought it about. But the coxswain chose his moment carefully, using wind and wave action to help drive the boat around, and then they were pulling strongly back towards Destiny.

Aplyn-Ahrmahk sat on the bow thwart, looking aft past Mahlyk at the brightly painted anchor buoy, which got progressively smaller with distance, disappearing in the troughs of the waves, then bobbing back into sight. Boat work was always risky in blowing weather like this, but on a lee shore, with the entire rudder carried away and a bottom where anchors were known to drag, the notion of getting a third anchor laid out made plenty of sense to him. Of course, he did wonder how he'd ended up selected for the delightful task. Personally, he would cheerfully have declined the honor in favor of Tohmys Tymkyn, Destiny's fourth lieutenant. But Tymkyn was busy with the galleon's pinnace, locating and buoying the spire of rock which had claimed the ship's rudder. He was having at least as exciting a time of it as Aplyn-Ahrmahk, and the ensign wondered if the two of them had been chosen because they were so junior they'd be less badly missed if one or both of them didn't make it home again.

I'm sure I'm doing the Captain a disservice, he told himself firmly, wiping spray from his face, and then smiled as he wondered how Sir Dunkyn was going to react to his upcoming little show of initiative. I can always blame it on Stywyrt, he thought hopefully. Sir Dunkyn's known him long enough to realize what a corrupting influence he can be on a young and innocent officer such as myself.

"Pull! Langhorne -- I thought you were seamen!" Mahlyk bawled, as if on cue. "I've seen dockside doxies with stronger backs! Aye, and legs, too!"

Aplyn-Ahrmahk shook his head in resignation.

* * * * * * * * * *

Sir Dunkyn Yairley watched with carefully concealed relief as the longboat was swayed back aboard. The pinnace followed, nesting inside the longboat on the gallows of spare spars above the main hatch. The cutters on the quarter and stern davits would have been much easier to get out and in again, especially with the deck so cluttered with the yards and sails which had been sent down from above to reduce topweight, and they probably would have sufficed. But they might not have, either, in these sea conditions, and he was disinclined to take chances with men's lives, whether the rules of the game allowed him to show his concern or not.

And they definitely wouldn't have sufficed for what that young idiot pulled after dropping the sheet anchor! he thought sourly.

He considered reprimanding Aplyn-Ahrmahk. The ensign and that scapegrace ne'er-do-well Mahlyk had taken it upon themselves to sweep the seabed north of Destiny with a grappling iron-weighted trailing line which should (in theory, at least) have snagged on any rocks rising high enough to be a threat to the galleon even at low tide. As a result, Yairley now knew he had over a mile of rock-free clear water for maneuvering room to the north of his current position.

They hadn't happened to ask permission for that little escapade, and they'd almost capsized twice before they'd finished, and the captain was severely torn between a warm sense of pride in a youngster who'd become one of his special protégés and anger at both of them for risking their lives and their entire boat's crew without authorization.

Well, time enough to make my mind up about that later, he decided. And in the meantime, I'll just concentrate on putting the fear of Shan-wei into the young jackanapes.

He paused long enough to give Aplyn-Ahrmahk a steely-eyed glare as a down payment, then turned back to the task of creating a jury-rigged rudder.

Maikel Symmyns had gotten a spare main topgallant yard laid across the quarterdeck so that its arms jutted out through the aftermost gunports on either side, supported with "lifts" to the mizzen mast and guys running forward to the main chains. Hanging blocks had been secured to either end of the spar, and the falls run forward from them through the fairleads under the wheel. Several turns had been taken around the barrel of the wheel, and then the free ends of the falls had been seized to the staple at the midpoint of the drum to anchor everything firmly.
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Re: STICKY: How Firm a Foundation Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:20 pm

DrakBibliophile
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How Firm A Foundation - Snippet 13

"Here 'tis, Sir," Garam Mahgail said, and Yairley turned to face the ship's carpenter. The carpenter was a warrant officer, not a commissioned officer, and he was probably close to half-again Yairley's age and bald as an egg, but still brawny and callused. At the moment, his bushy eyebrows were raised as he exhibited his craftsmanship for the captain's approval.

"Is this what you had in mind, Sir?" he asked, and Yairley nodded.

"That's precisely what I had in mind, Master Mahgail!" he assured the warrant officer, and beckoned Symmyns over. The boatswain obeyed the gesture, and the captain pointed at Mahgail's handiwork.

"Well, Bo'sun?"

"Aye, I think it'll work right well, Sir," Symmyns said with a slow smile of approval. "Mind you, it's going to be Shan-wei's own drag in a light air, Cap'n! Be like towing a couple of sea anchors astern, it will."

"Oh, not quite that bad, Bo'sun," Yairley disagreed with a smile of his own. "More like one sea anchor and a half."

"Whatever you say, Sir." Symmyns' smile turned into a grin for a moment, and then he turned back to his working party and started barking additional orders.

At Yairley's instructions, Mahgail had fitted a pair of gundeck water tubs with bridles on their open ends, and inhauls had been made fast to the bottoms. Now the captain watched as one of the tubs was secured to either end of the spar by a line run to the inhaul. Then the bitter end from the hanging block was secured to the bridle. With the wheel in the "midships" position, the inhauls would tow the tubs through the water a good fifty feet behind the ship with their bottoms up, but when the wheel was turned to larboard, the bridle rope from the tub on that side to the barrel of the wheel would be shortened, pulling the tub around to tow open-end first. The resultant heavy drag on that side of the ship would force the galleon to turn to larboard until the wheel was reversed and the tub went gradually back to its bottom-up position, where it would exert far less drag. And as the wheel continued turning to starboard, the starboard tub would go from the bottom-up to the open-end-forward position, causing the ship to turn to starboard.

There were drawbacks to the arrangement, of course. As Symmyns had pointed out, the drag penalty would be significant. Water was far denser than air, which explained how something as relatively tiny as a ship's rudder could steer something a galleon's size to begin with, and the resistance even with both tubs floating bottom-up would knock back Destiny's speed far more than a landsman might expect. And whereas a rudder could be used even when backing a ship, the tubs were all too likely to foul their control lines -- or actually be drawn under the ship -- in that sort of situation. But Symmyns' initial diagnosis had been correct. The gudgeons, the hinge-like sockets into which the pintle pins of the rudder mounted, had been completely torn out, and the rudder post itself was badly damaged and leaking. They had a pattern from which to build a complete replacement rudder, but there was nothing left to attach a replacement to, and his improvised arrangement should work once he got the ship underway once more.

Which isn't going to happen, of course, until the wind veers, he reflected sourly.

But at least he had three anchors out, so far they all seemed to be holding, and there was no sign anyone ashore had even noticed their presence. Under the circumstances, he was more than prepared to settle for that for the moment.

* * * * * * * * * *

"Oh, Pasquale, take me now!" Trahvys Saylkyrk groaned.

He was the oldest of Destiny's midshipmen -- in fact, he was two years older than Hektor Aplyn-Ahrmahk -- and he didn't usually have any particular problem with seasickness. The last couple of days had pushed even his stomach over the edge, however, and he looked down at the stew in his bowl with a distinctly queasy expression. The ship's motion was actually more violent than it had been before she anchored, in some ways, as heavy, confused seas continued to roll in from the southeast. She lay with her head to the wind now, which meant she climbed each steep roller as it came in, then buried her nose and kicked her heels at the sky as it ran aft. And just to complete Saylkyrk's misery, the galleon threw in her own special little corkscrew with every third or fourth plunge.

"Please take me now!" he added as one of those corkscrews ran through the ship's timbers and his stomach heaved, and Aplyn-Ahrmahk laughed.

"I doubt he'd have you," he said. As an ensign, he was neither fish nor wyvern in a lot of ways. Although he was senior to any of the ship's midshipmen, he still wasn't a commissioned officer, and wouldn't be until his sixteenth birthday. As such, he continued to live in the midshipmen's berth and served as the senior member of the midshipmen' mess. Now he looked across the swaying mess table at Saylkyrk and grinned. "Archangels have standards, you know. He'd probably take one look at that pasty green complexion and pass."

"Fine for you to say," Saylkyrk with a grimace. "There are times I don't think you have a stomach, Hektor!"

"Nonsense! You're just jealous, Trahvys," Aplyn-Ahrmahk shot back with a still broader grin. Some midshipmen might have resented being required to take the orders of someone so much younger than he was, but Saylkyrk and Aplyn-Ahrmahk had been friends for years. Now the ensign elevated his nose, turned his head to display his profile, and sniffed dramatically. "Not that I don't find your petty envy easy enough to understand. It must be difficult living in the shadow of such superhuman beauty as my own."

"Beauty!" Saylkyrk snorted and dug a spoon glumly into the stew. "It's not your 'beauty' I envy. Or that I would envy, if you had any! It's the fact that I've never seen you puking into the bilges."

"You would've if you'd been in my first ship with me," Aplyn-Ahrmahk told him with a shudder. "Of course, that was a galley -- only about two-thirds Destiny's size." He shook his head feelingly. "I was as sick as a . . . as a . . . as sick as Ahrlee over there," he said, twitching his head at the still-miserable Zhones.

"Oh, no, you weren't," Zhones replied feebly. "You couldn't've been; you're still alive."

The other midshipmen chuckled with the cheerful callousness of their youth, but one of them patted Zhones comfortingly on the back.

"Don't worry, Ahrlee. They say once your tonsils come up it gets easier."

"Bastard!" Zhones shot back with a somewhat strained grin.

"Don't pay any attention to him, Ahrlee!" Aplyn-Ahrmahk commanded. "Besides, it's not your tonsils; it's your toenails. After you bring your toenails up it gets easier."

Even Zhones laughed at that one, and Aplyn-Ahrmahk smiled as he pushed his own chocolate cup across the table to the younger midshipman.

Hot chocolate was even harder to come by aboard ship than it was ashore, and it was expensive. With his allowance from his adoptive father, Aplyn-Ahrmahk could have afforded to bring along his own private store and enjoy it with every meal. Fortunately, he also had enough common sense to do nothing of the sort. He'd been born to humble enough beginnings to realize how throwing his newfound wealth into his fellows' faces would have been received, so instead he'd invested in a supply for the entire mess. By this point, they'd been away from port long enough it was running decidedly low, however, and the cook's mate assigned as the midshipmen' mess steward was rationing it out in miserly doses. But the Charisian naval tradition was that the ship's company was kept well fed, with hot food whenever possible, especially after a day and a night like Destiny had just passed. Despite Saylkyrk's obvious lack of enthusiasm for the stew in his bowl it was actually quite tasty (albeit a bit greasy), and their steward had made enough chocolate for everyone. For that matter, he'd even managed to come up with fresh bread. He'd expended the last of their flour in the process, but the result had been well worth it.
*
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Re: STICKY: How Firm a Foundation Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:13 pm

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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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Re: STICKY: How Firm a Foundation Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:19 pm

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How Firm A Foundation - Snippet 15

"Thank you, Master Zhones," Yairley said gravely. "In that case, I suppose we should make sail, don't you?"

"Uh, yes, Sir. I mean, aye, aye, Sir!"

"Very good, Master Zhones." Yairley smiled. "Go to your station, then."

"Aye, aye, Sir!"

The midshipman saluted again and dashed away, and Yairley glanced one more time around his command, mentally double checking every detail.

The topgallant masts and topmasts were housed, but the topsail yards had been gotten back up to work on the topmast caps, and the topsails and foresails' gaskets had been stripped off and replaced with lengths of spun yarn so that they could be set instantly. The fore- and mainyards had been braced up for the larboard tack, and the spring Aplyn-Ahrmahk and Mahlyk had managed to make fast to the larboard anchor cable had been led in through an after gunport and made fast. Every eye was on the quarterdeck, and Yairley stepped slowly and calmly to his place by the wheel.

He looked back at his watching men. They could all very easily die in the next few minutes. If the ship took the ground in something as rocky as Scrabble Sound in this kind of sea, she was almost certain to break up, and the chances of making it to shore would be poor, at best. Yet as he surveyed all of those watching faces, he saw no doubt. Anxiety, yes. Even fear, here and there, but not doubt. They trusted him, and he drew a deep breath.

"Stand by the cables!"

Tymythy Kwayle, with a gleaming, broad-headed ax in hand, stood by the riding bitts where the sheet anchor cable crossed them. Boatswain Symmyns himself stood by the larboard cable with an identical ax, both of them waiting for the order to cut the hawsers. If everything went according to plan, the moment the anchor cables were cut, the spring attached to the larboard cable would become her new anchor cable, pulling her stern, rather than her bow around into the wind. With her yards already braced, the instant the wind came two points forward of the beam she could cut the spring, as well, and make sail close-hauled on the larboard tack, which would put her roughly on a course of south-southeast. She ought to be able to hold that heading clean back out of Scrabble Sound the way she'd come, if only the wind held steady. Or, for that matter, if it chose to back still further east towards the north. Of course, if it decided to veer to the west, instead . . . .

Stop that, he told himself absently. The wind isn't really trying to kill you, Dunkyn, and you know it.

"Stand by to make sail! Lay aloft, topmen!"

The topmen hurried aloft, and he let them get settled into place. Then --

"Man halliards and sheets! Man braces!"

Everything was ready, and he squared his shoulders.

"Cut the cables!"

The axes flashed. It took more than one blow to sever a cable six inches in diameter, but Kwayle and Symmyns were both powerfully muscled and only too well aware of the stakes this day. They managed it in no more than two or three blows each, and the freed hawsers went whipping out of the hawseholes like angry serpents at virtually the same moment.

Destiny fell off the wind almost instantly, leaning over to starboard as her stern came round to larboard. It was working, and --

Then the spring parted.

Yairley felt the twanging shock as the line snapped, simply overpowered by the force of the sea striking the ship. She hadn't turned remotely far enough yet, and the sea took her, driving her towards the rocky beach waiting to devour her. For a moment, just an instant, Yairley's brain froze. He felt his ship rolling madly, starting to drive stern-first towards destruction, and knew there was nothing he could do about it.

Yet even as that realization hammered through him, he heard someone else snapping orders in a preposterously level voice which sounded remarkably like his own.

"Let fall fore topsail and course! Up fore topmast staysail!"

The crewmen who'd realized just as well as their captain that their ship was about to die didn't even hesitate as the bone-deep discipline of the Imperial Charisian Navy's ruthless drills and training took them by the throat, instead. They simply obeyed, and the fore topsail, course, and topmast staysail fell, flapping and thundering on the wind.

"Sheet home! Weather braces haul! Back topsail and course!"

That was the critical moment, Yairley realized later. His entire ship's company had been anticipating the order to haul taut the lee braces, trimming the yards around to take the wind as the ship turned. That was what they'd been focused on, but now he was backing the sails; trimming them to take the wind from directly ahead, instead. Any hesitation, any confusion in the wake of the unexpected change in orders, would have been fatal, but Destiny's crew never faltered.

The yards shifted, the sails pressed back against the mast, and Destiny began moving through the water -- not forwards, but astern -- while the sudden pressure drove her head still further round to starboard.

Destiny backed around on her heel -- slowly, clumsily canvas volleying and thundering, spray everywhere, the deck lurching underfoot. She wallowed drunkenly from side to side, but she was moving astern even as she drifted rapidly towards the beach. Sir Dunkyn Yairley had imposed his will upon his ship, and he stared up at the masthead weathervane, waiting, praying his improvised rudder hadn't been fouled, judging his moment.

And then --

"Let fall the mizzen topsail!" he shouted the moment the wind came abaft the starboard beam at last. "Starboard your helm! Off forward braces! Off fore topmast staysail sheets! Lee braces haul! Brace up! Shift the fore topmast staysail! Let fall main topsail and main course! Sheet home! Main topsail and course braces haul!"

The orders came with metronome precision, exactly as if he'd practiced this exact maneuver a hundred times before, drilled his crew in it daily. The mizzen topsail filled immediately, arresting the ship's sternward movement, and the forward square sails and fore topmast staysail were trimmed round. Then the main topsail and main course blossomed, as well, and suddenly Destiny was moving steadily, confidently, surging through the confused seas on the larboard tack with torrents of spray bursting above her bow. As she gathered way, the floating tubs of her improvised rudder settled back into their designed positions, and she answered the helm with steadily increasing obedience.

"Done it, lads!" someone shouted. "Three cheers for the Captain!"

HMS Destiny was a warship of the Imperial Charisian Navy, and the ICN had standards of discipline and professionalism other navies could only envy. Discipline and professionalism which, for just an instant, vanished into wild, braying cheers and whistles as their ship forged towards safety.

Sir Dunkyn Yairley rounded on his ship's company, his expression thunderous, but he found himself face-to-face with a broadly grinning first lieutenant and an ensign who was capering on deck and snapping the fingers of both hands.

"And what sort of an example is this, Master Lathyk?! Master Aplyn-Ahrmahk?!" the captain barked.

"Not a very good one, I'm afraid, Sir," Lathyk replied. "And I beg your pardon for it. I'll sort the men out shortly, too, Sir, I promise. But for now, let them cheer, Sir! They deserve it. By God, they deserve it!"

He met Yairley's eyes steadily, and the captain felt his immediate ire ease just a bit as the realization of what they'd just accomplished began to sink into him, as well.

"I had the quartermaster of the watch time it, Sir," Aplyn-Ahrmahk said, and Yairley looked at him. The ensign had stopped capering about like a demented monkey lizard, but he was still grinning like a lunatic.

"Three minutes!" the young man said. "Three minutes -- that's how long it took you, Sir!"

Aplyn-Ahrmahk's eyes gleamed with admiration, and Yairley gazed back at him for a moment, then, almost against his will, he laughed.

"Three minutes you say, Master Aplyn-Ahrmahk?" He shook his head. "I fear you're wrong about that. I assure you from my own personal experience that it took at least three hours."
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Re: STICKY: How Firm a Foundation Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:59 pm

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How Firm A Foundation - Snippet 16

March,
Year of God 895

.I.
Edwyrd Howsmyn's foundry,
Barony of High Rock,
Kingdom of Old Charis

The blast furnace screamed, belching incandescent fury against the night, and the sharpness of coal smoke blended with the smell of hot iron, sweat, and at least a thousand other smells Father Paityr Wylsynn couldn't begin to identify. The mingled scent of purpose and industry hung heavy in the humid air, catching lightly at the back of his throat even through the panes of glass.

He stood gazing out Ehdwyrd Howsmyn's office window into the hot summer darkness and wondered how he'd come here. Not just the trip to this office, but to why he was here . . . and to what was happening inside his own mind and soul.

"A glass of wine, Father?" Howsmyn asked from behind him, and the priest turned from the window.

"Yes, thank you," he agreed with a smile.

For all his incredible (and steadily growing) wealth, Howsmyn preferred to dispense with servants whenever possible, and the young intendant watched him pour with his own hands. The ironmaster extended one of the glasses to his guest, then joined him beside the window, looking out over the huge sprawl of the largest ironworks in the entire world.

It was, Wylsynn admitted, an awesome sight. The furnace closest to the window (and it wasn't actually all that close, he acknowledged) was only one of dozens. They fumed and smoked like so many volcanoes, and when he looked to his right he could see a flood of molten iron, glowing with a white heart of fury, flowing from a furnace which had just been tapped. The glare of the fuming iron lit the faces of the workers tending the furnace, turning them into demon helpers from the forge of Shan-wei herself as the incandescent river poured into the waiting molds.

Howsmyn's Delthak foundries never slept. Even as Wylsynn watched, draft dragons hauled huge wagons piled with coke and iron ore and crushed limestone along the iron rails Howsmyn had laid down, and the rhythmic thud and clang of water-powered drop hammers seemed to vibrate in his own blood and bone. When he looked to the east, he could see the glow of the lampposts lining the road all the way to Port Ithmyn, the harbor city the man who'd become known throughout Safehold as "The Ironmaster of Charis" had built on the west shore of Lake Ithmyn expressly to serve his complex. Port Ithmyn was over four miles away, invisible with distance, yet Wylsynn could picture the lanterns and torches illuminating its never-silent waterfront without any difficulty at all.

If Clyntahn could see this he'd die of sheer apoplexy, Wylsynn reflected, and despite his own internal doubts -- or possibly even because of them -- the thought gave him intense satisfaction. Still . . . .

"I can hardly believe all you've accomplished, Master Howsmyn," he said, waving his wine glass at everything beyond the window. "All this out of nothing but empty ground just five years ago." He shook his head. "You Charisians have done a lot of amazing things, but I think this is possibly the most amazing of all."

"It wasn't quite 'nothing but empty ground,' Father," Howsmyn disagreed. "Oh," he grinned, "it wasn't a lot more than empty ground, that's true, but there was the village here. And the fishing village at Port Ithmyn. Still, I'll grant your point, and God knows I've plowed enough marks back into the soil, as it were."

Wylsynn nodded, accepting the minor correction. Then he sighed and turned to face his host squarely.

"Of course, I suspect the Grand Inquisitor would have a few things to say if he could see it," he said. "Which is rather the point of my visit."

"Of course it is, Father," Howsmyn said calmly. "I haven't added anything beyond those things you and I have discussed, but you'd be derelict in your duties if you didn't reassure yourself of that. I think it's probably too late to carry out any inspections tonight, but tomorrow morning we'll look at anything you want to see. I would ask you to take a guide -- there are some hazardous processes out there, and I'd hate to accidentally incinerate the Archbishop's Intendant -- but you're perfectly welcome to decide for yourself what you want to look at or examine, or which of my supervisors or shift workers you'd care to interview." He inclined his head in a gesture which wasn't quite a bow. "You've been nothing but courteous and conscientious under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, Father. I can't ask for more than that."

"I'm glad you think so. On the other hand, I have to admit there are times I wonder -- worry about -- the slash lizard you've saddled here." Wylsynn waved his glass at the fire-lit night beyond the window once more. "I know nothing you've done violates the Proscriptions, yet the sheer scale of your effort, and the . . . innovative way you've applied allowable knowledge is disturbing. The Writ warns that change begets change, and while it says nothing about matters of scale, there are those -- not all of them Temple Loyalists, by any stretch -- who worry that innovation on such a scale will inevitably erode the Proscriptions."

"Which must put you in a most difficult position, Father," Howsmyn observed.

"Oh, indeed it does." Wylsynn smiled thinly. "It helps that Archbishop Maikel doesn't share those concerns, and he's supported all of my determinations where your new techniques are concerned. I don't suppose that would make the Grand Inquisitor any more supportive, but it does quite a lot for my own peace of mind. And to be honest, the thought of how the Grand Inquisitor would react if he truly knew all you and the other 'innovators' here in Charis have been up to pleases me immensely. In fact, that's part of my problem, I'm afraid."

Howsmyn gazed at him for a moment, then cocked his head to one side.

"I'm no Bédardist, Father," he said almost gently, "but I'd be astonished if you didn't feel that way after what happened to your father and your uncle. Obviously, I don't know you as well as the Archbishop does, but I do know you better than many, I expect, after how closely we've worked together for the past couple of years. You're worried that your inevitable anger at Clyntahn and the Group of Four might cause you to overlook violations of the Proscriptions because of a desire to strike back at them, aren't you?"

Wylsynn's eyes widened with respect. It wasn't really surprise; Ehdwyrd Howsmyn was one of the smartest men he knew, after all. Yet the ironmaster's willingness to address his own concerns so directly, and the edge of compassion in Howsmyn's tone, were more than he'd expected.
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Re: STICKY: How Firm a Foundation Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sun Jul 10, 2011 8:54 pm

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How Firm A Foundation - Snippet 17

"That's part of the problem," he acknowledged. "In fact, it's a very large part. I'm afraid it's not quite all of it, however. The truth is that I'm grappling with doubts of my own."

"We all are, Father." Howsmyn smiled crookedly. "I hope this won't sound presumptuous coming from a layman, but it seems to me that someone in your position, especially, would find that all but inevitable."

"I know." Wylsynn nodded. "And you're right. However," he inhaled more briskly, "at the moment I'm most interested in these 'accumulators' of yours. I may have seen the plans and approved them, yet there's a part of me that wants to actually see them." He smiled suddenly, the boyish expression making him look even younger than his years. "It's difficult, as you've observed, balancing my duty as Intendant against my duty as Director of the Office of Patents, but the Director in me is fascinated by the possibilities of your accumulators."

"I feel the same way," Howsmyn admitted with an answering gleam of humor. "And if you'll look over there" -- he pointed out the window -- "you'll see Accumulator Number Three beside that blast furnace."

Wylsynn's eyes followed the pointing index finger and narrowed as the furnace's seething glow illuminated a massive brickwork structure. As he'd just said, he'd seen the plans for Howsmyn's accumulators, but mere drawings, however accurately scaled, couldn't have prepared him for the reality.

The huge tower rose fifty feet into the air. A trio of blast furnaces clustered around it, and on the far side, a long, broad structure -- a workshop of some sort -- stretched into the night. The workshop was two stories tall, its walls pierced by vast expanses of windows to take advantage of natural light during the day. Now those windows glowed with internal light, spilling from lanterns and interspersed with frequent, far brighter bursts of glare from furnaces and forges within it.

"In another couple of months, I'll have nine of them up and running," Howsmyn continued. "I'd like to have more, honestly, but at that point we'll be getting close to the capacity the river can supply. I've considered running an aqueduct from the mountains to increase supply, but frankly an aqueduct big enough to supply even one accumulator would be far too expensive. It'd tie up too much manpower I need elsewhere, for that matter. Instead, I'm looking at the possibility of using windmills to pump from the lake, although there are some technical issues there, too."

"I can imagine," Wylsynn murmured, wondering what would happen if the accumulator he could see sprang a leak.

The use of cisterns and water tanks to generate water pressure for plumbing and sewer systems had been part of Safehold since the Creation itself, but no one had ever considered using them the way Ehdwyrd Howsmyn was using them. Probably, Wylsynn thought, because no one else had ever had the sheer audacity to think on the scale the ironmaster did.

Howsmyn's new blast furnaces and "puddling hearths" required levels of forced draft no one had ever contemplated before. He was driving them to unheard-of temperatures, recirculating the hot smoke and gasses through firebrick flues to reclaim and utilize their heat in ways no one else ever had, and his output was exploding upward. And it was as if each new accomplishment only suggested even more possibilities to his fertile mind, like the massive new multi-ton drop hammers and the ever larger, ever more ambitious casting processes his workers were developing. All of which required still more power. Far more of it, in fact, then conventional waterwheels could possibly provide.

Which was where the concept for the "accumulator" had come from.

Waterwheels, as Howsmyn had pointed out in his patent and vetting applications, were inherently inefficient in several ways. The most obvious, of course, was that there wasn't always a handy waterfall where you wanted one. Holding ponds could be built, just as he'd done here at Delthak, but there were limits on the head of pressure one could build up using ponds, and water flows could fluctuate at the most inconvenient times. So it had occurred to him that if he could accumulate enough water, it might be possible to build his own waterfall, one that was located where he needed it and didn't fluctuate unpredictably. And if he was going to do that, he might as well come up with a more efficient design to use that artificial waterfall's power, as well.

In many ways, vetting the application in Wylsynn's role as Intendant had been simple and straightforward. Nothing in the Proscriptions of Jwo-jeng forbade any of Howsmyn's proposals. They all fell within the Archangel's trinity of acceptable power: wind, water, and muscle. True, nothing in the Writ seemed ever to have contemplated something on the scale Howsmyn had in mind, but that was scarcely a valid reason to deny him an attestation of approval. And wearing his hat as the Director of Patents, rather than his priest's cap, Wylsynn had been more than pleased to grant Howsmyn the patent he'd requested.

And tomorrow morning I'll inspect one of them with my own eyes, he reflected now. I hope I don't fall into it!

His lips twitched in an almost-smile. He was quite a good swimmer, yet the thought of just how much water a structure the size of the accumulator might hold was daunting. He'd seen the numbers -- Doctor Mahklyn at the Royal College had calculated them for him -- but they'd been only figures on a piece of paper then. Now he was looking at the reality of a "cistern" fifty feet tall and thirty-five feet on a side, all raised an additional thirty feet into the air. According to Mahklyn, it held close to half a million gallons of water. That was a number Wylsynn couldn't even have thought of before the introduction of the Arabic numerals which were themselves barely five years old. Yet all that water, and all the immense pressure it generated, was concentrated on a single pipe at the bottom of the accumulator -- a single pipe almost wide enough for a man -- well, a tall boy, at least -- to stand in that delivered the accumulator's outflow not to a waterwheel but to something Howsmyn had dubbed a "turbine."

Another new innovation, Wylsynn thought, but still well within the Proscriptions. Jwo-jeng never said a wheel was the only way to generate water power, and we've been using windmills forever. Which is all one of his "turbines" really is, when all's said; it's just driven by water instead of wind.
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Re: STICKY: How Firm a Foundation Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:57 pm

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How Firm A Foundation - Snippet 18

Locating it inside the pipe, however, allowed the "turbine" to use the full force of all the water rushing through the pipe under all that pressure. Not only that, but the accumulator's design meant the pressure reaching the turbine was constant. And while it took a half dozen conventional waterwheels just to pump enough water to keep each accumulator supplied, the outflow from the turbine was routed back to the holding ponds supplying and driving the waterwheels, which allowed much of it to be recirculated and reused. Now if Howsmyn's plans to pump water from the lake proved workable (as most of his plans seemed to do), his supply of water -- and power -- would be assured effectively year-round.

He's got his canals completed now, too, the priest reflected. Now that he can barge iron ore and coal directly all the way from his mines up in the Hanth Mountains he can actually use all of that power. Archangels only know what that's going to mean for his productivity!

It was a sobering thought, and the fresh increases in Delthak's output were undoubtedly going to make Ehdwyrd Howsmyn even wealthier. More importantly, they were going to be crucial to the Empire of Charis' ability to survive under the relentless onslaught of the Church of God Awaiting.

No, not the Church, Paityr, Wylsynn reminded himself yet again. It's the Group of Four, that murderous bastard Clyntahn and the rest. They're the ones trying to destroy Charis and anyone else who dares to challenge their perversion of everything Mother Church is supposed to stand for!

It was true. He knew it was true. And yet it was growing harder for him to make that separation as he watched everyone in the Church's hierarchy meekly bend the knee to the Group of Four, accepting Clyntahn's atrocities, his twisting of everything the Office of Inquisition was supposed to be and stand for. It was easy enough to understand the fear behind that acceptance. What had happened to his own father, his uncle, and their friends among the vicarate who'd dared to reject Clyntahn's obscene version of Mother Church was a terrible warning of what would happen to anyone foolish enough to oppose him now.

Yet how had he ever come to hold the Grand Inquisitor's office in the first place? How could Mother Church have been so blind, so foolish -- so stupid and lost to her responsibility to God Himself -- as to entrust Zhaspahr Clyntahn with that position? And where had the other vicars been when Clyntahn had Samyl and Hauwerd Wylsynn and the other members of their circle of reformers slaughtered? When he'd applied the Punishment of Schueler to vicars of Mother Church not for any error of doctrine, not any act of heresy, but for having the audacity to oppose him? None of the other vicars could have believed the Inquisition's preposterous allegations against their Reformist fellows, yet not one voice had been raised in protest. Not one, when Langhorne himself had charged Mother Church's priests to die for what they knew was true and right if that proved necessary.

He closed his eyes, listening to the shriek of the blast furnaces, feeling the disciplined energy and power pulsing around him, gathering itself to resist Clyntahn and the other men in far distant Zion who supported him, and felt the doubt gnawing at his certainty once again. Not at his faith in God. Nothing could ever touch that, he thought. But his faith in Mother Church. His faith in Mother Church's fitness as the guardian of God's plan and message to His children.

There were men fighting to resist the Group of Four's corruption, yet they'd been forced to do it outside Mother Church -- in despite of Mother Church -- and in the process they were taking God's message into other waters, subtly reshaping its direction and scope. Were they right to do that? Wylsynn's own heart cried out to move in the same directions, to broaden the scope of God's love in the same ways, but was he right to do that? Or had they all fallen prey to Shan-wei? Was the Mother of Deception using the Reformists' own better natures, their own yearning to understand God, to lead them into opposition to God? Into believing God must be wise enough to think the same way they did rather than accepting that no mortal mind was great enough to grasp the mind of God? That it was not their job to lecture God but rather to hear His voice and obey it, whether or not it accorded with their own desires and prejudices? Their own limited understanding of all He saw and had ordained?

And how much of his own yearning to embrace that reshaped direction stemmed from his own searing anger? From the rage he couldn't suppress, however hard he tried, when he thought about Clyntahn and the mockery he'd made of the Inquisition? From his fury at the vicars who'd stood idly by and watched it happen? Who even now acquiesced by their silence in every atrocity Clyntahn proclaimed in the name of his own twisted image of Mother Church, the Archangels, and God Himself?

And, terribly though it frightened and shamed him to ask the question, or even dare to admit he could feel such things, how much of it stemmed from his anger at God Himself, and at His Archangels, for letting this happen? If Shan-wei could seduce men through the goodness of their hearts, by subtly twisting their faith and their love for their fellow men and women, how much more easily might she seduce them through the dark poison of anger? And where might anger such as his all too easily lead?

I know where my heart lies, where my own faith lives, Paityr Wylsynn thought. Even if I wished to pretend I didn't, that I weren't so strongly drawn to the Church of Charis' message, there'd be no point trying. The truth is the truth, however men might try to change it, but have I become part of the Darkness in my drive to serve the Light? And how does any man try -- what right does he have to try -- to be one of God's priests when he can't even know what the truth in his own heart is . . . or whether it springs from Light or Darkness?

He opened his eyes once more, looking out over the fiery vista of Ehdwyrd Howsmyn's enormous foundry complex, and worried.
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
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Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: STICKY: How Firm a Foundation Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:51 pm

DrakBibliophile
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How Firm A Foundation - Snippet 19


.II.
HMS Royal Charis, 58,
West Isle Channel,
and
Imperial Palace,
Cherayth,
Kingdom of Chisholm

The cabin lamps swung wildly, sending their light skittering across the richly woven carpets and the gleaming wood of the polished table. Glass decanters sang a mad song of vibration, planking and stout hull timbers groaned in complaint, wind howled, rain beat with icy fists on the skylight, and the steady cannon-shot impacts as HMS Royal Charis' bow slammed into one tall, gray wave after another echoed through the plunging ship's bones.

A landsman would have found all of that dreadfully alarming, assuming seasickness would have allowed him to stop vomiting long enough to appreciate it. Cayleb Ahrmahk, on the other hand, had never suffered from seasickness, and he'd seen heavy weather bad enough to make the current unpleasantness seem relatively mild.

Well, maybe a bit more than relatively mild, if we're going to be honest, he admitted to himself.

It was only late afternoon, yet as he gazed out through the stern windows at the raging sea in Royal Charis' wake it could have been night. True, by the standards of his own homeland, night came early in these relatively northern latitudes in mid-winter, but this was early even for the West Isle Channel. Solid cloud cover tended to do that, and if this weather was merely . . . exceptionally lively, there was worse coming soon enough. The front rolling in across the Zebediah Sea to meet him was going to make this seem like a walk in the park.

"Lovely weather you've chosen for a voyage," a female voice no one else aboard Royal Charis could hear remarked in his ear.

"I didn't exactly choose it," he pointed out in reply. He had to speak rather loudly for the com concealed in his jeweled pectoral scepter to pick up his voice amid all the background noise, but no one was likely to overhear him in this sort of weather. "And your sympathy underwhelms me, dear."

"Nonsense. I know you, Cayleb. You're having the time of your life," Empress Sharleyan replied tartly from the study across the hall from their suite in the Imperial Palace. She sat in a comfortable armchair parked near the cast-iron stove filling the library with welcome warmth, and their infant daughter slept blessedly peacefully on her shoulder.

"He does rather look forward to these exhilarating moments, doesn't he?" another, deeper voice observed over the same com net.

"Ganging up on me, Merlin?" Cayleb inquired.

"Simply stating the truth as I see it, Your Grace. The painfully obvious truth, I might add."

Normally, Merlin would have been aboard Royal Charis with Cayleb as the emperor's personal armsman and bodyguard. Circumstances weren't normal, however, and Cayleb and Sharleyan had agreed it was more important for the immediate future that he keep an eye on the empress. There wasn't much for a bodyguard to do aboard a ship battling her way against winter headwinds across nine thousand-odd miles of salt water from Cherayth to Tellesberg. And not even a seijin who was also a fusion-powered PICA could do much about winter weather . . . except, of course, to see it coming through the SNARCs deployed around the planet. Cayleb could monitor that information as well as Merlin could, however, and he was just as capable of receiving OWL's weather predictions from the computer's hiding place under the far distant Mountains of Light.

Not that he could share that information with anyone in Royal Charis' crew. On the other hand, the Imperial Charisian Navy had a near idolatrous faith in Cayleb Ahrmahk's sea sense. It he told Captain Gyrard he smelled a storm coming, no one was going to argue with him.

"He may not mind weather like this," a considerably more sour voice inserted. "Some of the rest of us lack the sort of stomachs that seem to be issued to Charisian monarchs."

"It'll do you good, Nahrmahn," Cayleb replied with a chuckle. "Ohlyvya's been after you to lose weight, anyway. And if you can't keep anything down, then by the time we reach Tellesberg you're probably going to waste away to no more than, oh, half the man you are today."

"Very funny," Nahrmahn half-growled.

Unlike Cayleb, who was gazing out into the dark the better to appreciate the weather, the rotund little Prince of Emerald was curled as close as he could fold himself into a miserable knot in his swaying cot. He wasn't quite as seasick as Cayleb's rather callous remark suggested, but he was quite seasick enough to be going on with.

His wife, Princess Ohlyvya, on the other hand, was as resistant to motion sickness as Cayleb himself. Nahrmahn found that a particularly unjust dispensation of divine capriciousness, since she'd said very much the same thing the emperor just had to him that very morning. At the moment, she was sitting in a chair securely lashed to the deck, knitting, and he heard her soft chuckle over the com.

"I suppose it really isn't all that funny, dear," she said now. "Still, we all know you'll get over it in another five-day or so. You'll be just fine." She waited half a beat. "Assuming the ship doesn't sink, of course."

"At the moment, that would be something of a relief," Nahrmahn informed her.

"Oh, stop complaining and think about all the scheming and planning and skullduggery you'll have to keep you occupied once we get home again!"

"Ohlyvya's right, Nahrmahn," Sharleyan said, and her voice was rather more serious than it had been. "Cayleb's going to need you to help sort out the mess. Since I can't be there to help out myself, I'm just as happy you can be."
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Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
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Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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