MELNOR’S TOWER

By Matt Wellheuser All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

Chapter 27: PLANNING FOR SPRING TRADE

Parry left the two young men at the farm with John where they went to work improving the farm as a team. John had a lot of things that he would like them to do and they were willing to work in exchange for board while the Plains folk came back. They would escort them along the trade paths. Parry would return after winter, if he didn’t get home soon, it would be a very long, dangerous trip for the wagon.

“Captain Jones!”

“Yes, Master Armad?”

“Jones and I are going sailing. Do you wish to come? Melnor is joining us.”

“I sail for a living and you ask if I would like to sail for play?”

“Well, have you tried it?

“You are pure crazy. I’ll come for the company but don’t expect me to crew or enjoy it!”

“Good! Come along then.” Captain Jones stepped from the boarding plank to the gunwales of the much smaller ship. Armad had built two larger ships along the designs of normal ships, manned and sent them out on trades. He had promised Captain Jones his own ship after he was sure his shipwright skills proved himself. This small Ship was his pleasure craft that would test his ideas. The previous trip taught Captain Jones the value of more than one type of sail and Armad hoped to teach an old salt the value of relaxing under sail.

They pulled out neatly and cut through the water much quicker than Captain Jones would have believed possible. It wasn’t possible to go faster than the wind but it sure felt like it as the ship heeled up on its side. The foam built in the wake and by its appearance, at about fifteen knots they sailed out of the small bay and into the full chop of the waves. Still they didn’t slow and David Jones had never been this close to the spray except when in a storm. A storm was no time for enjoyment. A storm called for survival and nothing more. As always, the wind felt brisk but the spray was gentle.

The undulation of the ship over smaller waves was relaxing, in contrast to the pitch and yaw of a full sized ship under sail. Every ship had its own rhythm and he had only to stand or sit as Armad was doing, to enjoy it. For the first time in his life, Captain Jones could think about sailing in terms of other than profit. With a ship of this quality, he could sail to the ends of time!

They sailed out onto the full chop of the sea and Armad made the drunkards walk of a sailor on a pitching ship over to the magician and asked. “How fast is this ship compared to others that you have sailed on?”

“I have sailed faster, but only in storm running from the wind.”

“Could magic make it faster?”

Melnor looked into the sky, thought a bit and raised his arm. The wind picked up for a short bit. The prow lifted a bit into the air and the boat skimmed across the waves. After a short bit, the speed settled down to a more normal level and Melnor dropped his arm. “I can do it, few others will be able to and it is unsustainable at a high level for any time.”

“Was that a high level?” Inquired, the big man.

“Any higher wind and I would have to find a more ready source of energy that I can handle. There is still the problem of being able to handle it for a long time. That, I cannot do.”

Armad turned a bit quickly to face Captain Jones. The ship took a dip and he nearly rolled off of the deck. Melnor caught him and held him until he could catch hold of the rail. “That was close”, called out Jones.

In his mind, Armad felt a nudge. He knew in his heart that it had been far closer than they realized and that M’Lady was warning him.

Parry pulled up his wagon just as the first snowflakes fell, put the horses into their stalls and headed out to find either Armad or Cappy. He had plans to return as soon as the spring thaws would allow. His main reason was not trade, but that would be his excuse.

Parry walked down to the docks just in time to see Armad and Captain Jones debark from a small ship. It wouldn’t be very useful for trade as it wasn’t big enough but if what he saw was representative of its speed, it would be easily the fastest thing on the water except for creatures of flight.

“Captain Jones! Armad! Does quick wind bring brisk trade?”
Jones looked at the young man and winced. He felt guilty for enjoying the short ride on the wind that this little ship provided. A quick retort was shadowed by the look on Armad’s face. Armad replied with all the joy that could come from his voice, “We went on a pleasure cruise. This craft will serve as a messenger ship and a quick delivery of precious cargo.”

Shocked! Parry asked, “I thought that you weren’t allowed to sail?”

Armad looked him in the eye and saw a man wiser than his years and capable past those years as well. He had known many of his type back home and recognized them as leaders. He couldn’t help himself when he admitted, “I almost went sailing without Melnor. Had I done so, I would have been dead.”

“Did he save you with magic?”

“The point is; he did not. Anyone could have saved me but Melnor, a magician, simply helped me save myself. I felt M’Lady today. She was right!”

“Even without magic, it was still a magician that saved you.”

Armad nodded. “I fear so. I may learn Magic, but when, I don’t know. Did you have a question?”

Parry nodded. “Yes, I have been trading at the Junction and one or twice to the north-west but I will need the partnership of others to insure that I can maintain my trade routes.”

“You have my support and I am sure that half of the Captains will back you. When do you go out next?”

“I have one more trip to warmer lands and my first trip in the spring will be to the junction. I need trade materials to match my stock.”

“In case you’ve noticed, we have a port full of ships that will no longer be going out for the winter. We may yet get a few more coming in.”

Parry looked around, “Has Grimley and the two Princes come in yet? Their spices are highly sought, they are light and they store well in my barrels. If I can get a light load, I might be able to make a quick trip before the worst of the snows.”

“Check with Blackie. He may know where they went and where the trade goods that they bring in are stashed.”

Parry nodded and left to find Blackie.

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