1. - Top - End - #120
    Ogre in the Playground

    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    The way Knarr sliced through the waves was a joy. Trag had built her himself, and his pride in his accomplishment was justified by this maiden voyage.

    Old Harga had helped design her; he had spent a lifetime building fishing boats and his knowledge of the winds and seas determined her shape. Hammer had forged the twenty thousand twisted brass nails that pinned her overlapping planks to her ribs. But he had felled the tree from which her keel had been carved. He had bound the ribs and warped them with water and fire. He had planked the logs and drilled the nail holes and hammered the nails that held her shell together. He had tarred the moss that chinked the lapping of her outer shell.

    He had given his blood and sweat to her, and after five years and many jibes from friends, the largest boat in the Northwestern Ocean was alive on the waves. Her sharply tapered bow and stern knifed through chop, and her round belly lifted her over the swells.

    Fishermen and raiders relied on smaller boats with oars. Knarr was a sailing vessel. Her crew of five could handle her with ease as she sailed by daylight. They beached her in the night. She could have sailed by night, but the crew needed rest, and along the Western coastline rocks and shoals were common. It was difficult enough to see them in daylight.

    Even so, over the last twenty days the vessel had visited eight coastal villages on her way to Garanheim. Beneath the waxed hides their initial store of salt fish, whalebone, and tarred rope had traded up for lanolin and wool, brimstone, and pottery. The small fortune in unicorn horns, taken from a small pod of the air-breathing fish that had beached itself near the shipyard in the last winter, remained hidden on either side of the keel between the largest ribs, beneath the bulk of the cargo. It was intended for sale when they reached the only coastal city Trag knew by name.

    "Boat ahead," cried Brinna from the bow. The youngest crewman also had the best eyes. It was some minutes before Trag could make out the shape of the boat: a long, low boat with a high prow and a dozen benches for rowers. Raiders used such boats. Prudence dictated a course out to deep water.

    Over the next few hours the longboat rowed to where they thought Knarr was going to be. The wind was not in their favor, but their low-sided hull and long, narrow construction was not affected by the wind. Knarr was dependent on the wind, and Trag tacked often, first to gain speed, then to open the distance between themselves and the raider.

    Keelit broke out his crossbow, protected from the weather in oiled sealskin, prompting a general move by the crew to arm themselves. Trag knew that five against twenty was a bad gamble; his crew knew it too. Nobody expected quarter from raiders. He tacked again, both to take them farther from the coastline and to change yet again the intercept point the raiders sought. Knarr slowed in the unfavorable wind. The raider altered its course again, closing the gap.

    Keelit loosed a bolt. It fell short. He was testing the range. His second bolt struck the raiders' hull. The rowers quickly lashed shields to cover themselves and resumed their rowing with little loss of speed. A bolt flew over the head of the coxwain who shook a fist at Keelit. With a shout his crew began to increase their pace. They were closing the gap in a final burst of speed.

    Trag shouted, "Hard To Port!"

    He swung the steering oar and Knarr rolled heavily to starboard as her bow cut to port.

    As Knarr righted herself from the radical turn he shouted, "Trim The Sail!"

    The onshore wind was now fully behind them, and Knarr picked up speed as Brinna and Moren drew the sail taught to catch the wind. Keelit fired from the deck cover on the bow, and the coxwain of the raider cursed, ducking lower in the narrow space at the stern.

    Knarr shot behind the longboat as the oarsmen rapidly stalled then reversed their boat. But in the interval Trag had opened the distance. The long, narrow raider hull was unable to turn quickly, and that too helped to open the gap. The oarsmen, already tired from several hours of rowing, were urged to a faster pace. Once again the longboat began to close the gap.

    It wasn't long before they began to mistime their strokes and skip oars. As they lost speed Trag turned away from the coast, little by little. By the time Knarr was back to a parallel run along the coast the raiders had given up. As the raider dwindled behind them, Trag vowed to mount a raid to burn them out.

    His goal of establishing easy trade between the Northwestern people would be threatened by the outcastes who turned to raiding. And nobody would mourn them if they were wiped out. Perhaps the merchants of Garanheim would have an interest in helping.

    The crew was laughing, congratulating themselves for their victory. Trag knew the war had just begun.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2018-09-06 at 02:57 PM.