A huge wave crested over the bow of the flagship Fury, as two-meter tall waves rose up and down. The dark skies lit up as a bolt of lightning flashed across the skies, like an erratic serpent crawling in the skies. Thunder rumbled and sheets of rain hammered the Isles' ships as they weathered the storm.
Fleet Master Dijon roared with laughter as the rain and seawater drenched him. He held on to his ship's steering wheel with both hands and his feet spread wide in perfect balance as the Fury crashed into a wave and rose up and down.
The crew hurdle against the mast and whatever shelter they could find, praying that the storm would end soon. "Fleet Master! We can't see the rest of the fleet!" His first mate yelled from his post at the poop deck.
"Don't worry about the rest, once the storm passes, we will be able to regroup," Dijon roared over the storm. "I trained the men myself, they know how to handle their ships."
Dijon peered out into the dark stormy night, trying to see ahead, "Navigator! What's our heading?"
"Holding firm! Three points to the star!" The oilskin clad navigator yelled next to him as he studied the lodestone in the bowl, being careful not lose the lodestone in the storm.
"Great! What great weather!" Dijon laughed wildly, as his muscles bulged, gripping the ship's wheel tightly, making sure his ship stayed on course.
It was hours later when the storm ebbed, and the seas returned to normal, the sun has risen up a couple of hours and the skies barely had a cloud in the clear blue skies. The crew of Fury were drained and barely had any rest, most of them had laid down and rested on the decks. "Ahoy sails!" The boy at the crow's nest yelled from the top of the main mast. He pointed to the rear where some white spots could be seen along the horizon.
Dijon pulled out his collapsable farseer, the telescope made by the finest glass masters on the Isles. He counted several white square sails in the distance, and gave an order, "Trim the sails! Bring us about!"
His first mate nodded and roared at the crew laying around the decks, "TRIM THE SAILS YOU LAZY DOGS!" and the crew jumped into action professionally.
Dijon folded his thick muscular arms and watched his crew work, despite their laid-back manner, his men were fiercely loyal to him, he smiled, turning to the navigator who was spinning the wheel to bring the ship around towards the sighted sails.
The missing ships of the fleet soon joined up and jolly boats were launched from the ships as the Captains gathered at the Fury. Each Captain dressed different, some were wearing a tri-cone hat, with colorful blouses and pants, others were bareheaded and dressed more formally, but all wear a white jacket with gold braids and trimmings, which identified their ranks.
They all gathered in the flagship Captain's Quarters where Dijon sat before a long table. His bed had been cleared away, leaving enough space for the nine Captains to settle down on chairs brought in by the crew.
As they settle down, crew members doubling up as stewards started serving breakfast, fresh eggs hard boiled with cold bread, smoked ham and fish, a wheel of hard cheese, jugs of honey and dried fruits were quickly spread out on the table. Jugs of watered down wine were also placed on the table for the Captains who quickly filled their mugs and gave a toast to Fleet Master Dijon.
"Everyone made it?" Dijon asked as he scanned his Captains,
"We are missing Ironwill's Captain," Someone spoke, "We did not see any signs of his ship since the storm."
Dijon nodded, "Keep a lookout for his ship later. Damage to your ships?"
His Captains gave a quick report of their damages and progress of repairs with the most serious was the loss of a mast while they dug into the food.
Dijon nodded as he chewed on a hard boiled egg, listening to his Captains' reports. "Good, we hold for repairs for Striker, once the repairs to the mast are done, we set sail again."
"My navigator tells me that we are roughly 2 days sail away from the rebel's harbor," Dijon said with his mouth full. "We are here to show off our might and show these rebels the power of our fleets. This will be a diplomacy meeting, I want no one to misbehave at the rebels harbor!"
The Captains looked at each other and an unsaid thought could be seen in their eyes. It's more like you the Fleet Master to start a brawl in drinking holes and pubs! But they all kept quiet and nodded.
"Good!" Dijon grinned, "Now we are also to pick up some slaves for transportation back, and also see if we can make some business deal with the rebels at the same time!"
"The Empire most likely will defeat them sooner or later," Dijon added, "So squeeze as much gold out of their pockets before it all ends up in the hands of the Empire! FOR GOLD!"
The Captains laughed, raising their mugs and goblets high, "GOLD GOLD GOLD!"
Goblin Coast, Far Harbor
The rumble of heavy machinery roared past Petty Officer Letts, and a heavy tractor powered by a nine-cylinder engine pulling a trailer loaded with massive pre fabricated reinforced concrete blocks kicked up a massive dust cloud in its wake.
Letts coughed and waved the dust away, quickly crossing the busy dirt path as another tractor ladened with more pre fabricated blocks roared up. He quickly entered the small office next to the busy construction site and shut the door, barely muting the loud noises outside.
"Phew! It's hot!" He removed his white safety helmet and hung it over a peg by the door and settle down on his desk where a simple rotary fan blew warm air.
"Of course it's hot!" A soft feminine voice replied to him, "Its almost the start of summer!"
"Yes yes I know," Letts started to unroll the sheets of architectural drawings on his desk. "At least the rain will stop and the ground will be easier for the construction crews to work on."
"Yes, the storm last night, was quite bad," The silver hair elf walked over to Letts's desk. "Last spring storm of the season."
"Yup... So Irisval, how was your civil engineering course?" Letts asked as he used a couple of rocks as a paperweight, placing them on the ends of the technical draft.
"It was... educating..." Irisval smiled, "I didn't know there were so much to consider in construction and buildings."
"Well, good for you! Come here and take a look," Letts absent mindedly gestured her over. "Look here, this is the pier section which we have completed construction. Now, here will be the dry docks and port for major ships to come in to load and unload cargo."
Irisval glanced through the design drawings and nodded.
"Now the seabed here is mostly sand and sediments," Letts continued, "But this area has no good natural deep harbor for deep-hulled ships. We need your expertise to harden the terrain so that we can construct a port out towards deep sea."
Irsival nodded as she rotated the drawings and took note of the location, "I need to go take a look and feel of the area first."
"Ok, by the way, the ships from the mysterious Isles will be arriving by tomorrow," Letts reminded her, "There's gonna be a big welcoming reception at the pier for them. If you are free, go join in the fun."
Irisval nodded and rolled up the blueprint drawings. "Got it boss!" and she exited the small office.
As she stepped out of the shade of the office, the hot sun blasted onto her. making her narrow her eyes as they slowly adjusted to the bright sunlight. She has worn a simple white blouse with pockets and a pair of khaki shorts displaying her long legs and combat boots with a toolbelt over her slim waist where she kept measuring tools and mana stones.
Shorts were like all the fashion rage now in the city due to the changing weather, she thought to herself and grinned, wondering how the people from the Isles will react when they saw the girls here all dressed up in short blouses and scandalous shorts.
Wearing her white helmet, she hopped across another rumbling tractor carrying more construction materials and headed towards the port area where a white painted 2 meter tall wooden wall fenced off the construction site.
Slogans and warning signs were nailed up against the wood wall, and strips of yellow and black markings lined the edges. She reached the gate where three security guards in black armor and equipped with swords and revolvers guarded the entrance.
They stopped her as she neared the gate, and she displayed her pass, which they carefully compared the picture on her pass with her face before nodding and allowing her entry. She stepped past the guard post and entered the still under construction port, skipping over water holes, with the roll of drawings under her arm.
Dozens of workers with yellow helmets were toiling under the sun. There were even a couple of Orcs carrying 'I' shaped steel beams and they stacked it on other beams, and teams of workers started welding the beams together.
She skipped past the dry docks and headed straight for a fenced off area by the beach and stood before the sea. She noted the beach had been paved over with concrete and she head right to the edge of the concrete platform and removed her boots before she climbed down into the water.
The surging waves pushed against her as the cooling seawater reached up to her lower thighs. Irisval felt the loose sand underneath her feet and admired the beautiful crystal clear waters.
Closing her eyes, she channeled her magical senses to the sand underneath her, probing the terrain with her powers. It was almost an hour before she suddenly opened her eyes, and gasped for air as she used almost two-thirds of her power.
She grimaced as she realized she got sunburnt, her smooth white skin had turned red from standing in the sun and she wondered if the hoomans have any medication for sunburn, if not she has to find a healer to cast some healing spell on her skin.
Climbing back up to the concrete platform, she spread the roll of paper out and started to jotting down notes, highlighting areas where the terrain was soft, or firm, and where reinforcements were required. Finally done, she felt like she was baked under the sun, and she quickly returned back to the shaded office.
"Here!" She dumped the roll of drawing onto Letts's table and turned the fan to blow her, taking out a bottle of lukewarm water from her desk to drink. "Phew, it's hot! I am cooked!"
Letts looked up from his paperwork and saw Irisval looking like a boiled lobster and laughed, "Didn't you apply sunblock?"
"Sun bob?" Irisval raised her pretty eyebrows in question.
"Sun-block, not bob or bored..." Letts laughed again, and dug into his drawers, removing a bottle of sunblock lotion. "Damn girl, your skin is gonna peel off at this rate, you better go find Doc, for some after sun cream or you gonna regret it tomorrow! Here, catch!"
He tossed the bottle of lotion to Irisval who caught it and stared in confusion at the English wordings. "You actually need to apply that over your exposed skin before you go out in the sun. Keep it."
Letts glanced through the notes written on the drawing while Irisval read the instructions on the bottle. "Wait! This blocks the sun?"
"Huh? yea!" Letts replied without looking up. "That's why it's called sunblock."
"Why didn't you give me this earlier!" Irisval cried as she glared at Letts.
"You didn't ask," came back the reply.