Aug 4, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm

30 July
Personal Journal Entry

I woke well before dawn to the persistant knocking at my chamber door.  It was Cairine stating that Agent Shea, whom I had not had back in the Steamlands since the Fusang affair many years ago, had just arrived by airship.  They were apparently mooring and he would debark shortly and was requesting an immediate audience with me.

Cairine heated water for me and started to lay out a day gown for me to put on.

“Gods, Cairine! I expect that I’ll be battling for my life - for the very lives of my family and clan - today.  I don’t think I’ll need the formality of the proper gown at this moment.  Just get my leather battle gear out of the wardrobe.  I put it all together just a few hours ago.”

After making myself ready, I walked down to the ballroom, where we had set up headquarters for the battle planning.  I found Admiral Beaumont, Colonel Somme, Colonel O’Toole, and Sir Tele all waiting for me around the chart table.  They had all heard the airship from their tents outside and rose to discover what was going on.

“Your Grace, “ they all greeted me nearly in unison.

Just as I was about to reply, the ballroom doors opened to reveal a very muscular young man in his regimentals entering the room confidently. His sandy brown hair cut short, but combed to the side as is the latest fashion, allowed his blue eyes to fairly sparkle. As he approached our small group his smile widened.

“My goodness, Shea, it seems that military work in the far east has been quite agreeable to you!  You look every inch the well-muscled warrior at ease.”

“Your Grace,” he said as he kissed my hand. “I’ve been traveling back to Winterfell for some time now.  Even in Fusang we were hearing rumblings of the Vulgarian violence heading your way.”

“Well, well, Shea.” said O’Toole mildly stepping forward to clap his former protégé on the shoulder.  “What news, son?”

At this prompting, Shea pulled the charts out as I made hasty introductions and showed what he knew of the Vulgarian’s circuitous route.  Based on what he told us of the intelligence he was able to gather along the way, it seems that the Vulgarians were stopping frequently and with distinct purpose - purchasing this and that, and conferring with shamans in various cities and countrysides.

“Well, “ said Admiral Beaumont, “what is clear is that they are indeed heading this way, and based on all current information they will sail into our waters sometime this afternoon or evening. What is less clear is what they have been doing along the way and whether that means anything  to us. Weapons? Time travel? Some sort of magic?”

At that moment, the sounds of running feet  came from the great room, and a young bosun’s mate stepped in and saluted.  “Ma’am.  Sirs.  I have news that a large airship is headed directly for the Isle.  It appears to be flying the Bellambi flag, Your Grace.”

“Very good.  We shall join you outside, directly,” acknowledged Admiral Beaumont.

We left the charts where they laid on the table, gratefully accepted the tea that cook just brought in on a cart and walked with our cups (do try not to be too shocked about that) outside where we saw The Protagoras coming nearer.  

“Excellent!” I exclaimed, “Kate and Adso are arriving from the Royal Society.  They were pleased to use this occasion to test their new experimental scientific instruments and weapons.”

We all grinned a little and went to the mooring dock to greet them in what may have been the last peaceful hour of the day (and the sun was just fully over the edge of the horizon).


Amplebeak the Inebriated said...

"I am the quaint old innkeeper, do you remember me?
Has anything been happening since I stepped out to pee.
A lot of altercations and a happy little elf.
You can't be drinking beer all day and keep it to yourself."

(Apologies to Peter Schickele)