Week 322: Cut of the Jib

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Jun 15, 2019
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Word Count: 2151​

Amanita Agaricales, business woman and honorary citizen of the Empire of Pelagia, stood at the docks of the upper portion of Flumen Petram. She was pleased to spend some time on land without fighting and chaos. There was enough time for proper hair and skincare. Her golden locks were tied up into twin bunches, one at each side of her head. Her face was made up to be pale, all the better for her green lipstick and blue eye shadow to pop. No longer did she have to wear armor. She was dressed in a fancy garment with a large bow around the waist and knee-high boots.

While she was looking fine, the area she was standing in was a mess. The docks of Flumen Petram were heavily damaged. Entire buildings were nothing more than rubble on the ground. Most of the piers were destroyed or in need of serious repair. The rest of the city wasn't faring much better. It had been the site of a huge battle. The marks of the wicker worms still remained on the ground.

Flumen Petram relied on the port to support the above-water part of the city. They needed to get in goods and resources in order to start rebuilding. Of course, that meant trade, and that meant they needed someone with connections to get the resources they needed.

The docks were full of activity. Only a quarter of it was operational, and that quarter had to be utilized to the fullest. Ships were scheduled out for weeks and any delays had an unacceptable cascading effect. The loading and unloading of goods were hectic since the dock workers had to compete with the construction crew. Heavy machines swung everywhere, barely missing wagons of cargo.

Amanita was staring out at the ocean. She was expecting a ship from Paludis.

Standing next to her was the dock foreman. He was still accustomed to heavy physical labor as his shirtless muscular body revealed. He had his arms folded. "Enjoying the view, Lady Agaricales?" His voice was rough and scratchy.

"Not particularly."

The foreman laughed. "Yeah. It's way too chaotic right now. We had four near-crashes this week. Where's your ship? Isn't it supposed to be here already?"

Amanita glanced to the large clock on the face of the main dock office building. "It has another thirty minutes. I'm not worried."

"Good," the foreman said. "Because we need those building materials from Paludis to help rebuild Flumen Petram. It had better get here soon. And—"

There was a loud boom as two people crashed into each other. Neither could see because they were pushing too many boxes.

"Salty sea roe," the foreman spat. "I need to deal with this. We await your shipment." He ran off while shouting, "How many times have I said to pull tall objects! Pull so you can still see you warped hull board."

Amanita returned her gaze to the ocean. The ship from Paludis should be in sight already waiting in line to dock, but it wasn't. The businesswoman was getting impatient waiting for it to show up on the horizon, so she went over to the temporary light tower. The original building had been damages and wasn't safe to operate.

At the light tower was where messenger drones were sent out and received. A small team of harried velen were busy managing the drones. There was a constant stream of them flying in and out. Two stacks of hastily-written messages, an outgoing pile and incoming pile, sat on a desk. Amanita could barely understand the shorthand they were using.

"Operator," Amanita said, "is there any word from the Kakatli?"

One of the velen glanced over. "Oh, Lady Agaricales, yes, I think there was." The scrawny woman searched through a pile of messages. "They are having some issues. I was about to rearrange their docking time for late this evening."

"No."

"No?"

"No." Amanita glared at the operator. "I'm going to go out and fix the issue so they can get here on time. Keep their assigned docking schedule and give me their coordinates."

"The Kakatli is thirty-two degrees south of east and a quarter of a nautical mile out."

Amanita had no idea where that was. She kept her face impassive. "Perhaps I'll take the drone that delivered the message to show me the way. Which one is it?"

"But we need that," the operator said.

"What you need is the supplies on board that ship. Even a small delay could cause large issues down the line. The sealant is especially important. There are several projects waiting on it. Do you want them to be risked getting delayed?" As Amanita spoke, she leaned closer.

"No," the operator said. "Here. You can borrow the drone. It will fly back when it's done showing you the way." She handed over an old drone rusted and discolored by constant exposure to the salty ocean. It was still flying, rickety and noisy as it was.

Amanita headed down to the beach where there were small rowboats available for rent. Of course she wasn't planning on doing any rowing. From a magical circle on the ground, she called forth her monstrous servant, a half-humanoid half-crustacean daemon.

"Memerosia, follow that drone," Amanita ordered.

Even with a steel muzzle around the fiends mouth, she let out crabby noises. Memerosia took to the ocean, crab legs swimming along the current. The ride was not smooth. Amanita held on tight as the boat rocked back and forth, almost as if it was intentional. The boat headed right for a huge wave. A splash of water soaked the entire boat, including the passenger.

Amanita narrowed her eyes and clenched her teeth. She had just bought that dress.

Up ahead was the Kakatli, a large shipping vessel. It was looking damaged with a lot of rough patches on the hull. The rowboat pulled up alongside the ship. "Ahoy!" Amanita called out. "Lower the ladder."

A sailor looked over the side. "What? Who are you?"

"I'm Amanita Agaricales, your boss!"

The sailor looked uncertain. He disappeared for a moment but soon returned with a rope ladder.

Amanita turned to Memerosia. "You can stay down here. Do what you want except for attacking any ships."

Amanita climbed on board to be greeted by several sailors and a laicar wearing a fancy coat.

"Uh, owner on board," a sailor announced.

"Lady Agaricales, what are you doing out here?" the laicar with the fancy coat said.

The ship creaked and groaned as the wooden structure was beat by the waves. Everything was damp from the deck to the riggings of the sails. A metal grate in the middle of the ship led to the cargo hold. On the side of the vessel was the symbol of Auctoritas.

"I'm here to ask why there is a delay in the ship coming into port," Amanita said. "Are you the captain?"

"Aye," the laicar in the coat said. "Captain Ervin. Listen, we've had a lot of problems doing this delivery. Just as we were coming in, one of our sails broke, so we can't get moving until we fix it." He pointed to a large tear in the foresail. The captain was a lean man, but it was clear his body was toned from working on the ship. His body was tanned all over except for the part on his face covered by the hat.

Amanita shaded her eyes as she looked upwards. "Why is no one fixing it, then?"

Captain Ervin shrugged. "We've had a rough trip, so I'm letting the men take things easy. We got here, didn't we? So what if we're a bit late? We'll get there when we get there."

"No. That is unacceptable. You must fix the sail and get the Kakatli moving. Now."

"What's the big deal? So we're a bit late."

"The big deal is that right now, the docks are only operating at limited capacity while having many more ships coming in than normal. Everything has to be scheduled out for days. If you don't land now, you won't get another chance today, they'll move you late this evening."

"Doesn't matter to us. It's not like we'll have time to stay in the city and rest. I'm not pushing my sailors any more than they've already been pushed. Just calm your pantaloon, Lady Agaricales. It's been a rough voyage." The captain walked away. "You're welcome to stay here or go back to the city." He gave her a wave. "I'm going to enjoy some fresh sea air."

"I demand you get the ship fixed and moving as soon as possible," Amanita commanded.

Captain Ervin glanced back with a bemused look. "On the water, the captain is the king and emperor. What I say goes. Not even, well, I guess Emperor Caput, can tell me what to do. I make all the decisions here."

Amanita stood on the deck with her arms crossed and a scowl stuck on her face. No. She had to get the ship to the port on time. This was her first trade deal and shipment as the Armicustos of Pelagia. Not only that, it was her first major trade deal period. She had to make certain it worked. It was her change to prove that she could do it. After all of that hard work preparing things, how could Amanita let the first venture she organized not go perfect? It would set up all future expectations of her.

Captain Ervin had gone to the roof of the bridge. Amanita climbed after him. He had a relaxing setup with a reclining chair and a cabinet filled with various drinks. He was resting with a smoke in hand. A tray of salted seafood sat on the ground next to him.

"You're still here?" Captain Ervin said.

"I need this boat to get in on time," Amanita said. Her voice were not as harsh, and her tones were softer. "This is important to the people of Flumen Petram. And fine, it's also important to me. I need this to go well. What would it take to get this ship back to work again right now?"

"You don't even care about us, do you?" Captain Ervin asked. "Do you know what we've had to been through? Have you even noticed how many of my sailors are injured?"

Amanita glanced down to the main deck. Indeed, the quite a few sailors looked roughed up. There might be even more in areas of the ship she couldn't see. That, when taken into account all of the recent repairs to the ship made Amanita suspicious.

"What did happen?" she asked.

"Pirates. We're prime targets out there, especially now that Pelagia is weakened and in a state of repair. With so many ships bringing supplies, it's a pirates dream out there. They are getting bold."

Amanita nodded. "So you need more protection. Fine, I understand."

"Not just protection. My sailors need to feel secure. We're all rattled from the attack and need some time off."

Amanita scratched her head. That would be a problem. There was no space to moor ships at the moment. Everyone was expected to unload, get more supplies and then sail on again. If they wanted to stop, they had to go to another city.

Her expression brightened, and her eyes shifted upwards. Then again. She rubbed her chin.

"I happen to know of a place on the docks that is destroyed and not in use at the moment. I can get you parking rights there. That way, you will have some time to stay on land. Admittedly, there isn't much to do in Flumen Petram right now."

"Hey, if you're giving us time off, we'll find something to do." Captain Ervin smirked. "I'm sure I can motivate the boys to work with that."

"It will also give me time to find some protection for your vessel. I'm sure some mercenaries are still around." Amanita sighed. She was already doing numbers in her mind at the additional costs incurred on the trip. Future deliveries would need to have their price increased, especially to make up for the current one.

"Sounds great." Captain Ervine breathed out a huge puff of smoke. He was still sitting around until he noticed Amanita's sharp eyes on him. "Oh, you meant now, now. Yeah, fine." He groaned as he stood up.

"Hey, get the foresail fixed. We have a delivery to make!" the captain shouted as he slid down from the roof of the bridge.

Amanita remained standing, able to handle the rocking waves thanks to all the practice she had previously on board the velen vessels. There were still concerns that kept the businesswoman's face in a dark frown. If there were pirates roaming the seas, it would make things much more difficult. Perhaps she wanted to see what was going on for herself.
 

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