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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Rensslaer

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Lord J. Roxton said:
The third one was... short. And a bit silly, but I like that. The umlauts placed over certain words (as done in The New Yorker) adds to the silliness. Actually, the umlauts are sort of distracting. I liked the descriptions of the dog's various minor actions. Reminds me of some dogs I've had.
Ahhh.... :rofl:

So Lord Roxton plays at a clever game of leading the dogs off the trail, eh?

Very Byzantine of you, Sir.... Indeed. :rolleyes:

Rensslaer
 

J. Passepartout

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I shall insert some comment on my reviews.
CatKnight correctly guessed that I was trying to see how long I could go before I specifically said which war I was seeing explode around me.

Many people commented about the servant. I really was going to insert him in the middle, and I went back after my first draft with this intention. Somehow it escaped me, I don't know how. I really should have looked it over a third time.

Rensslear made a legitimate point about my treatment of Hitler. That was basically the point where I decided to reveal all and tell everyone what year this was. His comment about how people already had a pretty clear idea that Hitler was up to no good was something I should have taken into consideration. I suppose the only ground I have to fall on is that many other countries were engaging in appeasement prior to the war, but this probably doesn't stand up well.

I congratulate all the other authors. Alhazen and Stynlan are both quite good, and Lord J. Roxton, who I know personally, is a good author when he decides to be. ;) At my school there is a speech contest, with cash prizes. I never was motivated enough to actually get into the round where they hand out the cash, but Roxton decided he wanted the money.
 

stnylan

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Thank you all for the kind comments, and congratulations to my fellow contributors.

I've been interesting with the present tense for a little while. I played around with it in my All Alone in the Night attempt, and also as LD notes in the FC. I used it here to try and convey a sense of immediacy, of being in the moment. I made it first person to further concentrate things on Jean, to make it even more immediate. I admit I don't really have an answer to Rensslaer's query about how it is being told.

What I wanted to avoid was exposition, as it would break the immediacy, but it slipped in on two definite occasions I would now amend. I wonder if these were the paragraphs LD thought could be tightened (the letter paragraph and the language paragraph)? This is why I left the nature of the disaster/fiasco untold. The danger is that things could be misunderstood, and this clearly happened it at least one commentator (Carlos is not the king, which is the impression Amric seems to have had). Clearly with something being so sparing of extraneous information clarity is of prime importance. Rensslaer implicitly says the same in his second comment. In this regard I would judge myself only partially successful.

And CatKnight, sadly I have come to the conclusion that too much water has passed under the bridge for me to restart the Somerset AAR. I have lost the thread of it all, and though I do take quite detailed notes there is still a lot of memory I go by. I did consider writing an AAR based on the game from which this excerpt comes. I still might, though I feel I would like to give another CK chronicle a try.
 

Amric

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My one guess was RIGHT! I love it when that happens.

You all did a fantastic job and I am kicking myself for not recognizing stnylan's work in the fourth story. I shall now flush with embarrassment and wear a hair shirt in penance!:)
 

unmerged(34682)

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As for my story, about the palace lacking in magnificence, yes I think that was inspired partly by... The Wizard of Id. I'm not sure why I was thinking of The Wizard of Id, but I was. CatKnight says that all evidence points to it being a Nordic country. Well, actually, I just like the name Bjorn. It could be any country, but I decided not to mention which one, because it adds to the EU2-ish feeling that anything can happen. Hmm, now I've forgotten what the other comments were.

Oh, and the dog was only in the story because I decided I wanted to use the pun "Bring it here, General" (Brigadier General), which I was sure nobody would get, but it worked out anyway because I like the dog.
 
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coz1

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OK, folks - we've had the weekend to sort through the feedback to the feedback, and continue to keep it coming if you like. But I think it's time to open up a new round.

This time the topic shall be: A Discovery.


This can be any kind of discovery - a tech advancement, a newfound land by way of explorer or conquistador, or even the discovery of ancient ruins (such as the Troy event in Vickie.) I thought it a topic well suited that all games coud find someting to write about. Point is, try and use a game event or advancement and wrap it into a fictional post. Let's see how the writers do.

I will accept the first four that PM me as this session's submissions, and those writers will have until Friday, September 9th to send me their pieces. I will then post them that weekend.

So who's in?

EDIT - Here is a rundown of the idea for any that wish to know and do not already.
 
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coz1

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There is still one space available for the next round if anyone is interested.

Edit that - the final spot has been filled. Look forward to the sumissions this coming weekend.
 
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Director

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I'm sorry I missed the first round - was a little busy down here.

But I have read the submissions and enjoyed them - some good writing being done! And now I'll have to go look up what these authors have been up to in their AARs - which is the real point, right? ;)

I'm ready to 'Discover' the next group!




Has anyone discovered if the Discovery Channel takes the Discover card? :rolleyes:
 

Rensslaer

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stnylan said:
Clearly with something being so sparing of extraneous information clarity is of prime importance. Rensslaer implicitly says the same in his second comment. In this regard I would judge myself only partially successful.
Actually, I believe you managed this quite well! :)

And I see that this thread has already spawned its very own AAR offshoot -- a story based on the posted scene. Very well done!

Rensslaer
 

coz1

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Just a reminder - submissions for the next round of Guess the Author are due today. Please make sure to send them in by the end of the day so we can get this going this weekend.
 

coz1

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It appears that it is that time again. Time to take a look at four anonymous submissions based on the topic: A Discovery.

Please give each one a full read and an honest critique. And if you wish to guess the author along side that, feel free but please make that a secondary gesture, saving the critique for your first.

I will post the four submissions now and when I am through, you may begin. Enjoy.

EDIT - I will post the writers after a goodly period of allowing for feedback. And once again, since I know who the writers are, I will not be reviewing them myself (though I would like to.) I simply do not think it fair while everyone else reviews not knowing. Seems to defeat the purpose if I do. But I apologize already.
 
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coz1

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Author #1

Jan looked out across the straight; the island loomed ever closer. They had to stay closer to land lately; it gave subs less room to sneak up on the lightly armed cruiser. Or so Sergeant Petrus had said to them when they last left port. He couldn’t recall the name of the island they passed, it was just one of many out in the pacific. He didn’t know if the Dutch still held it, or if Anza troops had taken it. It could have been under British control, for all Jan knew. It didn’t matter, oil still got to the fleet, and the Java was still sailing. A lot of supplies were needed badly however, including food. Much of what the Dutch were using came from Vichy held Indochina. But the seas between Indonesia and the continent were not safe, not with British subs patrolling the waters.

British attempts to confront and destroy the small Dutch cruiser fleet had so far failed. So, the British sub fleet had taken to raids. Strikes against Dutch transports, from what Jan had heard, had begun taking a toll on the land troops. Reports from the officers said that the small Dutch militia force still held their ground, and had stopped Australian advances. Sometimes Jan wondered how much of this was true, especially with the Germans on board. He was well aware that a lot of what came out of Germany was worthy of questions, he was afraid his own officers were under the same idea. But it wasn’t worth worrying over too much, not with the war on.

The island slowly began to fade into the distance, and Jan felt the Java start to pick up speed, something was up. The only times the Java had sailed far from land was to protect transport convoys from Sub attacks, more often then not they arrived just in time to pick up survivors and survey the damage. So far the Java had not a single enemy sub casualty to her name. Rumor said that was going to change, fast. Klaxons shook him from his thoughts; it was a call to battle stations. As the lead gunner on the old depth charge machine Jan had been busy. But so far the slow, single shot depth charge mortar had done nothing more than keep subs from coming too close. A near miss from a British torpedo had scared the fleet back into port a while ago. Repairs were difficult on the islands, and getting back to Holland was suicide, what with the English High Sea’s fleet blockading the North Sea.

Jan stopped in his tracks when he spotted the gun. He had been forewarned that things were changing, but he hadn’t expected this. The familiar shape of his old gun was gone, replaced by something well over twice its size. Engineers, in the gray German uniforms were putting the final touches on the machine. Two helped the loaders fill the machine, Jan was struck by the number they loaded; it was quiet a few more than he was used to. Another talked with the gun’s officer, and a fourth was beside the trigger. Jan pushed him aside, and took his position beside the gun. The engineer swore under his breath, but moved away. When the Germans had first arrived on the boat they had been pushy and full of themselves. They were quickly reminded that although the Dutch fleet sailed beside her German ally, they weren’t a part of the Kriegsmarine. But that hadn’t stopped Admiraal Helfrich from accepting German engineers onto the Java to test their new toys. And Jan looked like he was going to enjoy it as well. The old gun had flung a single charge into the water and prayed for the best. This German monstrosity was supposed to do a lot more.

The ship suddenly shifted course; the hunt was on. “Fire!” Petrus shouted, and Jan jerked the lanyard back. The noise took Jan back, a louder and stronger noise than what he was used to. But the familiar splash brought him back. So did the dull explosions below the vessel. He lost track of the number of depth charges that went down, but it was impressive. Jan didn’t have time to think about, as another round was loaded and the gun aimed at the rising oil. Another volley splashed down and exploded. A third was loaded, but proved useless. The sub surfaced, to the joyous shouts of the Java’s crew. The Germans may have been full of themselves, but they made damn good weapons.

The machine guns on the Java opened up, and British sailors rushed to the sub’s deck guns. It was over as quickly as it had begun. The sub was scuttled by her crew, and the survivors taken captive. All the months of desperate chase had finally come to an end. The Java had her victory, if only to the technological gift from her German allies. It was a breakthrough in anti-submarine weapons, and Jan smiled at the thought that the Dutch were the first to use it. The Java kicked up again and began to sail back home, a victory and the height of anti-sub technology to her name. The Pacific war had suddenly taken a new turn, for the Dutch.
 

coz1

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Author #2

It was Al’s first time in Texas.

Feldwebel Albrecht Korenyi-Both, of the Austro-Hungarian Landwehr, sat perched at his 7.92 mm machine gun position, partially exposed atop a beige-colored halftrack with Imperial battle markings.

It was a typical summer day for north Texas, or so he’d been told. For the past week since arriving from back east, he’d experienced a stifling summer heat that was unvaried until evening, when he could expect a gully-washer thunderstorm which would electrify the whole firmament of sky with a roar like the heavens splitting open.

On the ground, on foot, he knew he would find waves of humid heat washing over him – ranging from merely muggy to suffocating, and back again. Fortunately, Al’s position afforded the benefit of a tempering breeze, produced by the modest 45 mile per hour speed of the vehicle. It ruffled his light gray uniform shirt, and what hair wasn’t covered by a billed field hat.

They were scouting for their divisional column, checking to the south of their path of travel for any obstacles or American formations. None had been spotted by the aerial patrols, but they were mostly concentrated to the north, anyway, where resistance was known to be entrenched to around the city of Amarillo.

The Texans weren’t very cooperative in describing the region and geography of the “panhandle” for their occupiers, so the scouts were forced to feel their own way along dirt tracks and roads. It seemed quiet, but there was always the possibility of snipers, or even a local farmer, taking a potshot at a solitary vehicle.

The Texans were very familiar with their ubiquitous hunting rifles. They were also crack shots. More than one of Korenyi-Both’s fellow gunners had been picked off by a young man accustomed to taking down rabbits at range.

Or even “opossums,” he thought with some amusement. This was a supposedly nocturnal creature with glowing red eyes which Al had been told about but had never seen. He was coming to the conclusion that his buddies were just trying to scare him, and that they didn’t really exist.

“I hope you are enjoying yourself, Al!” came a taunting voice from one of those jokesters, Renny, inside the halftrack. “I feel like I’m taking a sauna in hell down here!”

“You’ll lose some of your tummy, maybe. Eh?” Al shot back. “Maybe Katarin will be able to get her arms around you, next time she sees you!” He exaggerated, “Or Elsa… or whoever you plan to see first, when we get back.” How his beer-bellied friend could attract the girls better than he could was a mystery to him. One of these days he would ask, though he was almost afraid to hear the answer.

The halftrack commander, Leutnant Kasic, sat perched beside him with a pair of binoculars. He scanned the featureless plain – barren from horizon to horizon. A battery-operated radio was wedged against the hatch handle between them, playing an Amarillo station which entertained the troops… on both sides! Doris Day’s beautiful voice was a delight, even if the signal was irregular and tinny.

There was precious little to notice along the road. The landscape was flat. All of it. And one patch of scrub brush looked very like another. Kasic kept his eye on the horizon. Korenyi-Both’s attention was more nearly focused. Nothing.

As Doris Day finished, next came Nat King Cole. “A buzzard took a monkey for a ride in the air. The monkey thought that everything was on the square…”

Something about the view ahead of them nagged at Al for a moment. It made him almost dizzy. He frowned and cocked his head as he tried to puzzle it out.

The realization at which his mind arrived was flatly impossible. That is to say, everything in this land was flat. To within a meter or two of elevation! It had to be an illusion, or a mirage.

No. It was real.

The ground in front of the vehicle, for about the next few yards, was as close as one would expect. The land just beyond it… was miles away. There was an enormous gap between the far horizon and the ground they were traveling… and nothing in between!

The vast, endless plains of Texas had just opened up into an enormous canyon that stretched into the distance.

“Haaaalt!!!” Al screamed with unmatched urgency.

The dirt road turned almost 90 degrees along the crest of the rise, and there was precious little beyond the turn besides air. As thick as the Texas air was, it wouldn’t stop their halftrack from plunging to the bottom.

Renny, who was driving, threw the wheel hard over, and amidst a loud scraping sound and a cloud of dust, Al grabbed at the hatch handle to keep from being thrown clear. The radio dislodged and hurtled away. “Cool down, papa, don’t you blow your top…” the sound diminishing as it flew.

As much as Renny struggled, they weren’t going to make the turn. The vehicle was almost 9 tons of engine, armor and fuel, which even at a mere 45 mph would not turn on a dime. The rig began to tip. For an instant, in what seemed suddenly slow motion, the part of Al’s mind devoted to reflexive teasing blamed Renny for being too heavy!

They were sliding toward a small dusty knoll that rose up on the rim of the canyon. But when they left the dirt road, a shallow ditch caught the vehicle’s track, and it went over. Al’s grip was torn free, and he flew. The ground was strangely soft, when it received his body. His shoulder took most of the blow of landing. Dust flew up around him, and into his mouth and nose.

Blinking to clear his eyes of grit, Al managed to see – in slow motion still – the halftrack catapulting over him. He could sense its oppressive nearness, and his skin felt the heat radiating from its armor plating as it passed just inches from his face.

The enormous craft came to rest surprisingly softly – much as Al had – with the knoll’s layers of dust absorbing the impact, leaving the hill broken and cratered. The armor plating of the halftrack creaked loudly and shook back and forth from the force of its landing, but it ceased rolling.

Abruptly, near dead quiet replaced pandemonium. What noise remained stood out. A faint hiss of steam, leaking from the engine’s radiator. A screaming cry of a hawk or eagle. Some population of insects was filling the air with a peculiar, ratcheting siren.

Al raised up on his good arm, and tried to collect himself.

Peering around, he saw a deep rift in the earth. It was painted in such a variety of colors. And tall pillars of rock jutted up from the valley floor, as if someone had lifted a roof off its supports. It reminded Al of a postcard his uncle had sent him from Arizona, before the war – of the Grand Canyon!

“Scheisse!” someone from inside the halftrack moaned weakly. “Mein kopf!” Other voices began to complain. Kasic scrambled up in a daze from where he had fallen, and almost gone over the edge. By God’s amazing grace, they all seemed to be alive!

Strangely, Al could still faintly hear the radio, which had landed in a nearby patch of scrub.

“Now listen, Jack… Straighten up and fly right. Straighten up and fly right.”
 

coz1

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Author #3

Scientists Log:

It is the afternoon of the 13th, this March of 1995. I am among the crew of the Discovery, a craft in service to find the wreckage of a ship since past. We are twelve nautical miles from the island of Bermuda and attempting to find the ship Tudor, an English ship thought to have disappeared around this region of water.

We have had some luck as of late, and the submersible has found wreckage, thought to be the very same ship. They have drawn from the depths a box that contains some documents. They are in perishable state, but our scientists have done what they can to gain from them the knowledge that they might bestow upon us.

I have been given copies of what they show and will now include them in this log. I hope they are of service.

Diary of Captain Julius FitzStagg, 1st of July, 1589.
We have been given this assignment by Her Majesty, Elizabeth, Queen of England. She has determined that there is land a foot and that we should find it as it has been suggested by both the Spanish, and certain locals off the coast of the new world. I must admit that I am excited by the possibility as this is my first assignment from that most regal of Queens, and I am determined to prove both my worth and the trust that comes with such.

We have sailed past a great many large Spanish and French ships, and I am not ashamed to say that I fear they may beat us to the goal. But as suggested, we have our own destination, and I am given to favourable opinion that we will be a success.

Diary of Captain Julius FitzStagg, 13th of September, 1589.
The weather has been intolerable as of late. The waves crash against this vessel and make many of the men second-guess our assignment. I have been lucky in that the mates have been at the utmost loyalty and will do whatever they must to quell whatever unrest may arise.

But I admit that the assignment has been thus far a disappointment. Three times have we sailed the ship through the waters that were told to us would show us this wonderful Isle, yet we have seen nothing of the sort. Yet I am still confident that the knowledge that we have been given is very much trustworthy and will do what I can to keep the men excited at the possibility of giving our Queen such a gift. God willing.

Diary of Captain Julius FitzStagg, 2nd of November, 1589.
This is the tenth time of driving this vessel through the terribly uninhabitable waters of this region and yet we still do not see such an Island. The waves crash upon us daily and threaten to overturn our meager ship and I have no little amount of worry that the sailors aboard are considering mutiny. They have rations, but only for another two months or so.

We have a docking at Roanoke coming up in two weeks time. I am hoping some rest and relaxation might give them the resolve to continue in this endeavor. Yet I see such contempt as of late. I am unsure. They still hold me in high regard, so I must assume that they will hold fast and stay true to the Crown, yet as suggested…it does give me pause. I shall make a point to write after the next pass.

Diary of Captain Julius FitzStagg, 20th of February, 1560.
It is nearly four months since my last confession to this script and I must admit that my resolve begins to wane along with the men aboard. We lost several at last port and I am sincerely concerned that docking again may lose us the rest of the crew. There is simply too much to be gained by them at dry dock compared to the travails they surely endure aboard this vessel.

Yet I still hold out hope that we might gain the Golden Elizabeth this treasured Isle. It has been among the lips of my officers that the information we received at the outset of this mission might not have been as sound as we first thought. But I remain steadfast. Surely it must be here. Too many have suggested the very same. Should we be failures, then only God will judge us as such.

Diary of Captain Julius FitzStagg, 16th of May, 1560.
Our latest orders, gained at last port, have suggested that we sail until finding this destination. I am skeptical at this point. But I shall not disobey an order. If the Queen has given us this charge, I will carry it through. Though I must admit, times have been trying.

Just last week, we lost two men overboard from a huge wave that gave us all pause. It nearly took the ship with it. The Tudor is a fine vessel, but one that cannot withstand the unkind waters of this area. I have never seen such before in my life, and I have been round the horn of Africa.

But we must press on, if anything, to prove that my command was just and worthy. It was my first and hopefully, not my last. But where is this blasted Isle?!?

Diary of Captain Julius FitzStagg, 1st of August, 1560.
Written by the hand of Midshipman Portnoy
I have picked up our master’s journal to pay some respect to his endeavors. This last week, he has been taken from us by an outbreak of scurvy. Half of the staff has been afflicted, and it seems only a matter of time that the rest of us might find ourselves suffering from the same fate.

Yet we press on, if only to honour the Captain’s steadfast resolve. He was a master to us all, and we should only hope to be as worthy as he. But where can we be going? Why have we not found this seemingly deserted place? Does it even exist? And if so, why must we find it at all?

These questions haunt us, and the weather has been terribly unkind. The storms seem to hit at an almost unimaginable rate and ferocity. They throw the ship so that we are lucky to keep it staffed, much less afloat. But God willing, and the trust given to us by that most beautiful of monarchs, we will prevail. The question is when. I will attempt to keep this journal current as we continue this mission. But I admit that I am not confident. I already apologize to that fair Queen.

Diary of Captain Julius FitzStagg, 2nd of November, 1560.
Written by the hand of Midshipman Portnoy
The waves crash mightily at the bow of the ship and we have twice been swamped by the waters. I have no idea if we should survive this most dastardly storm, but I felt it only just to record it here for all to see...if they are able.

There is still no sign of this told of land and we have little regard that we shall ever see it presented to us. We only hope to survive until a chance to port is given to us. But I hold little hope that such will find us. The waves crash upon us to a point that we all fear the boat will be crushed by the shear magnitude of the water’s strength. And if so, we shall find a watery grave, indeed.

But we are sailors of Her Majesty’s Navy and shall stay strong until the end. I only wish that we might have found this treasured Isle so that our mission was not a complete failure. I hope that it might not be so. Perhaps we shall live, after all. God give us strength to carry on, and provide us with a sign that we shall

Scientist’s Log:

This is where the journal ends. The Island was discovered by another ship not two months later. Unfortunately, the hearty men aboard the Tudor were not able to take comfort in that fact. We shall endeavor to keep up our exploration of this sunken wreckage and find what else might be of service to science and history.
 

coz1

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Author #4

“My father was a fisherman, you see,” he said, wiping his mouth on his sleeve and setting the tankard carefully on the table-top. Beer at the Roaring Lion wasn’t that strong – I could testify to that, worse luck – and he was a big man, but he’d been drinking long before I arrived and I suspected he was tipsy if not drunk.

Petersen wasn’t a bad sort. We’d made a few voyages together, him as sailing master and me as mate, bumming a cog around the old Hansa ports with one trip over to England every season. Magda was a good enough ship, old but seaworthy, and Captain Renner kept her in good enough repair and he paid on time, which made up for him being a little rough of tongue. Petersen knew the Baltic like the back of his hand, knew every sounding and every sign of weather, or so it seemed to me, for I was young in those days and he was ancient in my eyes as Noah.

I’d told him that I dreamed of a ship of my own, of sailing away to the colonies of Gross Karls Land, or down into the hot waters of Spanish silver, tobacco and sugar. He’d laughed, not a pretty sight in a man with naught but the black scraggling stumps of teeth left in his mouth. He’d laughed and allowed that I’d do right fair as a captain and he thought the time not far away when some merchant prince might make me an offer. He didn’t think I should take on with the Hamburg men, and said so – cheap, he said, and went on at some length with such coarse descriptions that I forbear to relate them here.

And I asked him why he was a sailing master and not a captain himself, I asked him because I was young and stupid and proud to be talking to him as an equal. I knew as the words tumbled out that it was a mistake and I sat there in misery for a moment while he went somewhere far, far away. Then he drained his beer, said, “My father was a fisherman,” and set his tankard down as carefully as if it were an eggshell – as if he were afraid he would smash it down, break the trestle down if he let his control slip an inch.

He motioned for another beer, thanked the serving wench kindly – old as he was, she was old enough to be his mother – and slipped her a copper for to put more wood on the fire. I thought our previous line of talk was ended, though I couldn’t imagine what I’d said wrong. I knew plenty of merchant captains who had begun as ship’s boys and sons of fishermen. I was fumbling around to find something to restore the previous cheer to our conversation, but he had that long-away look in his eyes and I didn’t think he would hear me if I did speak.

And then he told me this story, just as I’ll tell it to you now. Old Petersen must be dead and gone these dozen years ago, and if not he’s so far away from here that my telling his tale won’t matter. So this is what he said.



My father was a fisherman, and I grew up on boats and had no fear of any storm or water. Respect, yes, for any little puddle can drown you if you’re careless, but no fear. I was handling hooks and lines from the time I could walk and hauling nets as soon as I had the strength. It was a hard life, but it was steady work and paid somewhat, and my pa was a prudent man, so he went from working for others to owning his own boat to employing others to work for him on his boats.

That was before the war, of course. Not a real war with armies and the like, but a war among the members of the Hanse. Ships went out and came back with no catch, or didn’t come back at all, and my father’s business suffered. Once that was over, the catches never seemed as good and the boats were going farther and farther out…

Anyhow, my father invested in a syndicate with some other Germans and a Swede, and they set about finding better fishing grounds. There were rumors, you see, of these great big fish that someone was finding out in the west, and so they sent some ships out there and I went on a trip or two. We found a lot of cold salt water, storms like none of us had ever seen, and islands made all of ice, but no fish to pay the freight for the trip.

I didn’t make the trip the next year as my father was ill and I was taking one of his boats up Bothnia way, when they found land. The Swede was a literary man and named it ‘Placentia’, and they busted up a ship and built a little town, because they did find fish. Shoals of fish, more fish than anyone had ever seen, fish like Sweden has needles on evergreens. They set up a little town and started drying and salting cod and sent that home, and our fortunes were made, or so we thought.

My father died then and we lost his boats and business to debts, mostly debts from those voyages that founded Placentia and brought in that golden harvest of cod. The syndicate men wanted money right then – him not even cold in his grave! – and no hearing of waiting a bit for us to earn it. My mother died soon after, my sister was already married and I was left with a little money and a lot of time on my hands. I couldn’t bear to work for any member of the syndicate, not after they took away everything my father had ever worked for. So I talked to some of my father’s old friends and they suggested I talk to Captain Halle.

Halle had served the archbishop in the last war when his ship was hired to fight the Danes, fought in that battle at Visby if you’ve heard of it. So he knew people at the palace and in the harbor, and those people approached him about making a voyage out of Placentia. See, the Spaniards had been shipping home fortunes in sugar, tobacco, chocolate, coffee… not to mention whole shiploads of gold and silver! And the French had those colonies down south somewhere, and the Portuguese were bringing in spices. So anyway, they thought we should sail west of Placentia and see if we could find some gold mines of our own, or the Spice Islands or some such.

I signed on with Captain Halle as a mate and we set about victualling and crewing for the voyage. None of us knew what we might find or how long we might be gone, but Greif was a fine seaworthy ship, tight as a drum, and we had some of the Archbishop’s gold to spend. And we didn’t know if we could buy any supplies in Placentia – except cod! – so we thought we should take as much with us as we could.

We left the Baltic in late spring. Denmark wasn’t collecting ship money for passing the Sound in those days, but we weren’t supposed to attract attention to ourselves so we didn’t stop. The voyage west was easy enough. There was rough weather north of Scotland, such big rollers that even the most experienced seamen took afright, but Greif took them like the sweet duck she was and with a little careful ship-handling we didn’t even lose a sail.

Then there was nothing but water, black at night and ever-green in the weak daylight we had. Captain Halle could not take a position without seeing the sun, but as long as we kept on westward we thought we’d fetch Placentia without much trouble, and we did. Had a brush with one of the ice mountains – big things, big as real mountains! – but we came to Placentia all right.

Halle had been right about the supplies, too. We were the first ship to come in after the winter, and the snow was still thick on the ground and skim ice was in the harbor The few survivors were freezing and starving, sick and scurvied. They had little food for themselves – nor firewood, much – and they were plenty angry when Captain Halle refused to hand over our supplies! If they’d been healthier I think we might have had trouble getting back to the boats, but we did, and we sailed away from that wretched port that same day, not even daring to stop to take on water.

West we went around the bulk of the island, and west we went until we reached land. Thick as the snow was on the land we decided not to put in for wood and water, and given that winter still lay upon the land the Captain decided to turn south instead of north.

Ah, that was a time. We sailed along shores thick with trees, mountains in the distance, and mapped what we could. In little inlets we filled our barrels from streams so pure… water clear and clean as any I’ve ever seen. Trees too thick for three men to join hands around them, meadows of sweet grass… plenty of game for fresh meat, too. We saw signs of men but not the men themselves, and we wondered.

Still we went south until we found that great bay, where Karlstadt stands now on the spit between the Asche and Bottcher Rivers. Our supplies were running low and poor Greif was worn in her cordage, so we put into that quiet anchorage – big enough to hold every ship in Christendom! – and put the men ashore.

I led a party that went foraging for food, and so I was the first to see them. Strange men they were – dark as Aegyptians, wearing precious little clothes at all and the women less than proper! Greif had the usual odds-and-sods crew from all over, but the savages spoke some uncouth language none of us had ever heard. Between us we tried German and Dutch, French and Italian, one man even had a few words of Turk. And if the savages had understood those we might have had a row, ha! But they didn’t. Still we managed to make ourselves understood well enough. They had seen the ship, you see, and didn’t know what to think of it at all! I think they believed some monster had come to eat them up, and I’m not sure that they were pleased to find that we were its masters!

It was a happy time. Oh, we worked like dogs, yes! Captain Halle wasn’t sure we could count on any food or stores in Placentia and he meant for Greif to sail all the way home if she had to! So we worked about the ship, and hunted and bought food from the natives. They had a little tobacco too and it was badly cured, but we smoked it right up, or chewed it like they did. It was a happy time, I say. Some of the men took fancy to the savage women – even some of the married men, as sailors will you know. I did, myself… she was the sweetest little brown thing, no bigger than a midge and happy all the time, couldn’t do enough to please me. I didn’t mean to get a child by her, but I did…

Oh, I meant well, you see. I meant to do right by her! No need to turn away and pretend you’re not shocked. I loved her, and I knew I’d come back with the next ship, turn by back to the sea and found a town. There was lots of land there, good land, and fish in the rivers and the bay. I’d hold land fir for a count if I got in at the start, and no-one would dare say anything about my little bride!

They died, you know. They all took sick and died, blistered all over with the pox. Towards the end they were cursing us in what few words they had, they blamed it all on us. We abandoned the camp and pulled the men back aboard ship, not a one of us sick at all – at least then - and when we went back later they were all dead or fled. My girl was dead, and the baby too. There wasn’t nothing I could do, I tell you! Nothing I could do!

Sometimes trouble comes along in a man’s life, you know? And you ride over it like a ship in a storm, bows to the wave and you struggle but you come through. But if a wave catches you just right… if it catches you just right, well over you go and down you go and there’s no help for you! And that was what happened to me. After we buried their poor bodies, some of the men took sick with agues and fevers. They call it malaria now, and Lord knows there was enough bad air in the swampy ground around the rivers, but we didn’t know what it was. The men began to say it was a judgement from God, and that set old Halle off right proper! At the end he wore pistols in his belt day and night, but he kept them at their work and got the ship away.

I was one that took sick, and I was one of the few that lived. I still get a touch of it from time to time, just to torment me with the memory of that poor girl… but I was never the same, even when I was home and well. I drank too much and remembered too much, I wanted too little, and the little girl I wanted I could never have.

It was Paradise, I tell you. As green and lovely… people like Adam’s tribe, savage in their ways and Pagan to be sure but a good and gentle people, pure in heart. And my little girl! Ah! Yes, it was Paradise… and none of us poor fallen men were ever meant for Paradise! That’s my great discovery, boy, that’s what I brought home from Halle’s great voyage. She haunted me then and haunts me still! Happiness will always pass, for none of us were meant for Paradise!



He never drank with me after that. Old Petersen was civil enough on ship, but guarded his tongue ever after, and I can’t say I blame him. He left the ship the next year and I don’t know where he went. And I took the ship Herr Krueger offered me and sailed away, and I never saw old Petersen again.

I’ve been to Karlstadt many times, and it’s a pretty town, but it isn’t Paradise. Not for me.
 

coz1

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Hmmm - I'd have thought we would have seen at least one person offer a critique in 24 hours. :confused:
 

Estonianzulu

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I just got home and wrecked my computer, but now I've actually read them all I will get to writing critiques.
 

Rensslaer

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Yeah, I'm doing the same... :rolleyes:

Just taking time to absorb and then will post.

Renss
 

Rensslaer

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#1 - I like the changed, a-historical alliance line up, as happens so often in our games. But I also like that the Dutch aren't necessarily so cozy with their allies -- a marriage of convenience that pays off this time around. I also like the feeling of separation you sense, that keeps them from going home, much like the WWI German East Asia Squadron.

No real criticisms on this one. I liked it! Though I think it would do better with some dialogue to break up the text.

#2 - Again, I like the switched, a-historical alliance line-up. Even resurrecting an old power. Hitler's Germany is overdone as a world conquerer, so now we have the Habsburgs back!

So what did they find? What is this place?

Interesting that we should have two World War II scenes, and even one 1995 scene (looking back at the 16th century), in a challenge about "discoveries"! This leaves us hope that there is more yet to be discovered, yes?

#3 - I really (really!) like your twist (Titanic-like) where the point of view (POV) is modern folks discovering records of old-style discoverers. We now know (thanks to the FitzStaggs) where the land is, but not the ships, whereas it was the opposite back then.

I liked this story... Conflict, duty, etc. I think it's difficult to do an entire story (or even just a scene) with diary entries, but you've done well!

#4 -- I'll have to come back for #4.

I will venture only one confident authorship guess... that Alhazen is the author who was forced to drop out, as duty called! :)