Grace - Session 3
Grace found herself in a strange hilly, place with
a greenish sky and purple grass.
Diedre announced "We've talked about this. Now, its time to do it. Take us home."
Grace thought over all of Diedre's instructions about manipulating shadow. She still wasn't sure that it would work, but knew there was no better time to try. Since Grace knew the sea, she decided to begin by moving them to the sea. Unfortunately, this was radical change from hilly, forested terrain, and Grace's introduction of more water, promptly lamded them in a swamp.
Diedre took one look at the close overhanging vines, the large shapes flitting half seen in the murky light and the algae filled water and said "Way too ambitous, Grace. You need to take small steps." Diedre led them back out of the swamp to forest. "Try again."
Grace realized that she had to introduce water more slowly and with coaching from Diedre managed to introduce a stream, then two streams, then a river which led to the open sea. It was many hours of walking, but Grace felt much better near a more familiar element.
Diedre nodded, strands of her grey hair caught in the wind. "Now, find us a boat."
Grace started walking along the shore trying to remember what Diedre had said about finding things in places that were just out of view. The main problem was that long stretches of beach were visible so there was no place to "find" a boat. Diedre took pity on her clearly frustrated student after a couple of hours and suggested that Grace find a cove with a boat. Grace could have kicked herself for missing that idea. She promptly found an appropriate cove, but the boat in it was a leaky rowboat.
Diedre's next suggestion was to find a village which would have boats. Grace had learned from her previous experience trying to find the sea. This time, she introduced habitation slowly eventually building a reasonable size fishing village with a significant number of boats tied to the local piers. Diedre nodded her approval and suggested lunch. A local tavern looked quite promising, and Diedre and Grace sat down to a hearty fish stew.
Their meal was interrupted by a large, unshaven man who ambled to their table and suggested that two women dining alone might be looking for a healthy, strong man. Grace had seen too many of the type in too many ports to take much notice and responded with her usual comment to such offers that she "saw no man present." It took this one about an average length of time to get the insult.
To Grace, he blustered in the usual fashion and got two friends of a similar build and mentality. He suggested that the women come along with them "if they didn't want trouble." Grace thought she should give them some warning and suggested that they leave "before they got hurt." The man blustered some more, and Grace knicked his legs out from under him causing him to hit a corner of a nearby table and end up unconcious. His two friends took the hint sufficiently to take their unconcious friend away and leave them in peace.
Grace glanced over at Diedre, but she was focused on the stew. "Now if we could return to a discussion of the afternoon's lesson."
Grace nodded as Diedre explained how she could have shortened some of her earlier rambling efforts to find a village with boats.
After lunch, the two women went from the tavern to a nearby ally, and Grace confidently walked to a rock expecting to find money to rent a boat. Unfortunately, there was no money under the rock. Diedre made some suggestions, and Grace went to the next ally and looked under a rock. There was money, but it was green instead of purple. Diedre gave her some encouragement, and Grace's third attempt was successful.
Now, Grace could rent a boat. She found (or more precisely, created the opportunity to find) a sailboat that was sturdy enough for open ocean and small enough for one person to handle. Grace and Diedre set sail immediately.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in a series of exercises with Diedre introducing storms, and getting Grace to delete them all the while changing the seas and sky to be closer and closer to those of Amber. Diedre complimented Grace's ability to handle subtle changes in the sea. Grace could see differences in the sea that she couldn't discern in the waves.
They sailed in what Grace thought was a companionable silence for awhile until she realized that Diedre's focus was elsewhere. Her crystal had begun glowing red. Diedre woke from her state then to ask Grace to find a place with seawater more like Catan, but currents like Amber. Diedre returns to her private mustings at one point muttering "where?" Grace obliges with the shifting, but as a storm appears on the horizon, Grace reminds Diedre that the boat they are in now won't survive the storm. They will need something bigger.
The storm started to come up so fast that Diedre took over shifting. With her new knowledge, Grace could now follow what Grace was doing with her shifting, and truly admire her skill in moving them away so fast.
Diedre continued to shift after they were clear of the storm muttering that it would take too long to get to Amber. As Diedre said it, Grace could just make out a boat on the horizon. Diedre directed her to sail towards it. As they approached, Grace saw the largest ship that she had ever seen afloat. It was only 3 masts but they were enourmous 400 foot masts; there were five decks in the superstructure. It was impressive, and Grace could see tremendous potential in the design for supporting troops on shore and for overwhelming and boarding smaller, more common ships. It was definately not from any Golden Circle kingdom.
Diedre directed Grace to sail their small sailboat around the huge ship. As they past the port side, the sailors looked curiously at the two women in the small boat. As they sailed around the bow, Grace noticed that the ship was the Mary Rose. As they continued on the starboard side, Grace saw the crew was in Amber Navy uniforms and turned out smartly on deck. Six deckhands were lowering ropes to winch their sailboat into an appropriately sized berth.
As they left the sailboat, Grace heard a familiar whistle and announcement, "Admiral coming aboard." The captain came forward, saluted, and asked for orders. Grace returned the salute automatically, and turned to Diedre for a heading. "Back where we came from."
Grace had mixed feelings about that order. This was not the ship that she would have chosen, but they had always managed to sail out of the storm before even in sailboat. They could certainly bring the Mary Rose closer and Grace could get a better look at how the ship handled. Grace was struck by the odd design of the huge wheel. It took six sailors to turn it. Grace was used to smaller wheels mounted in series with gears to increase the force of a single pilot. It took much less space and much less manpower, but Grace decided not to mention this detail to Diedre, she had clearly been trying.
As they started into the storm, Grace moved to stand next to Diedre whose storm was once more glowing a fierce red and commented, "You know that this is not a good design for handling the storm."
"What do you mean? It's a huge ship. I thought you wanted size."
"Wider, not taller. All this superstructure and huge masts will just catch the wind." Just then a gale force breeze knocked the ship to a 20 degree angle that it barely righted itself. Diedre said "We need to get below decks now."
"My place is here."
Diedre looked exasperated, and yelled "Follow me" before disappearing down a hatch.
Grace decided to follow if only to find out how Diedre planned to get the ship out of trouble.
Diedre's immediate instruction startled Grace "Shifting under pressure. Go down that corridor and move us to a ship not in a storm."
Grace was shocked then angry. "No. My place is up there with those people who are at risk. I won't leave."
Diedre reluctantly agreed and they climbed back to the wheelhouse. Diedre's skill and a good dose of luck got them out of the storm.
While the search was ongoing for survivors. Diedre shoved a paper and pencil at Grace and said draw the ship that will survive the storm. Diedre took over the Captain's desk and began sketching. Her design was more of a large cargo ship with a deep draft and three 150 to 200 foot masts.
Diedre looked over Grace shoulder and asked "How many crew?"
"Normally 50-60, but I would recommend double that." Grace was thinking of damage control teams. "It won't be fast, but I didn't think speed was a requirement." Grace had optimized for stability not speed. Diedre nodded that was alright.
Diedre and Grace took one of the rowboats with a half dozen crew to do the actual rowing. It wasn't seemly for Admirals to row themselves away from navy ships.
Rowing only a short distance, Grace saw a boat on the horizon. As this one approached, it became obvious that it matched her sketch pretty closely. The crew, though, were not navy and did not recognize Diedre and Grace.
As Grace and Diedre climbed aboard. Grace began to give orders to the crew that stared at her puzzeled. Grace on the basic theory that if you take charge as if you have authority, people usually believe you have it.
"There is a major storm coming. Tighten all lines, and haul in all the sail but the main sheet."
The officer who seemed to be in charge interrupted "Are you the new captain then?"
"You have your papers."
"Right here". Grace patted her left pocket and fleeting thought about Diedre's instructions on the subject of making things appear on your person. It was a little more advanced than she was capable of right now, but Grace did have experience bluffing officers from her days as enlisted crew. "Are you the First Officer?"
"Then you heard my orders. Get going." Habit caused the First Officer to obey his orders.
Grace overheard the crew talking. They seemed confused by Diedre's and Grace's presense. They were clearly expecting a different captain and worried about getting paid. Grace did annouce that there would be a bonus at the end of the voyage, and privately thought that she would find some way to get Amber to pay it.
Soon there was no more time for speculation as all hands were caught in the efforts to keep the ship stable in the raging storm. Diedre's stone glowed once more. The ship held. Grace wondered how long they would be in this when Diedre grabbed her arm and pointed "There! Do you see?"
Grace didn't at first. It was a strange sight of swirling waves and wind. It took her awhile to sort out what she was seeing, but then in a flash she realized it was an invisible ship. The outline of pieces of the ship would appear and disappear as waves and spray crashed against it. Diedre shouted "Take us towards it."
Grace worked the crew frantically to manuever the cargo ship towards the mysterious invisible ship. The crew obeyed if most were confused by the attempt at precise manuevering in the middle of a storm. Grace tried to watch for the invisible ship, but its outline would appear and disappear. The cargo ship would lurch toward it, but it was not designed for this type of manuevering.
Unfortunately, Grace could not get her new ship close enough and started having a harder and harder time finding the invisible ship as it appeared to be pulling away. Grace's final glimpse of the ship was its stern. Once the ship had gone, the storm soon ended.
As the storm faded, Grace noticed the nameplate on the ship's wheelhouse. This was the Dove. It was certainly a sturdy ship that had got them through a very dangerous ordeal.
Grace turned to Diedre "An invisible ship in an incredible storm. Invisible ships would have some very interesting possibilities."
Diedre responded "We have to investigate these things when they are this close to Amber."
Grace nodded "But who could control such forces?"