Moving forward in Argenstrath

a story
violencestrong language
2013-10-26 10:28:11,
2014-06-01 11:13:28
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          (Continued from "The Arbiter")

  His hands bulged with the iron blood in their veins as he towed the massive rope, the width of an average man's arm but
Grum was no average man. His powerful arms pumped and strained as the sweat poured from his face. He and two dozen men behind him continued to move slowly, one resounding simultaneous stomp at a time bringing the massive airship into dock. A prize of the baron's within its hold.
"Pull you bastards!" Grum commanded over his shoulder. The splintered hull, burnt out and exposed holds and crumbling decks were only the surface scars of the battle it had escaped. Now disabled and unable to fly, The Arbiter had to be brought in from sea, manually.
"Three quarters you worthless dogs!" he yelled. The rope hardly showing slack with each choreographed step. The hull of The Arbiter cracking and straining with ocean swells crashing unforgiving against her bow. Sea water erupting from the deck washing down in an unwelcome rain upon the backs of the sailors and dock workers. Each centimeter of slack meant another thirty of water in The Arbiter's hold and another 500 kilos of weight.
"Argh!" His teeth clenched and his body ached and burned. Men failing, loosing their grip behind him. It wouldn't be long before they'd start to fall.
"Attach the winch!" he barked and immediately the four strong men behind him broke position and grasped the brief length of slack drawn by Grum's hands while the first mate held his ground and tugged the now open rope past his shoulders. The men wrapped the rope about the tall column, locked it in place and took their places around the wheel, grasping the long arms and pushing with all the stamina they had left while the winch clicked and locked each meter of rope. Four clicks, six, eight. The ropes from the sides of the ruined vessel finding purchase as well in additional winches in similar fashion. Grum's dark eyes shifting between them.
The men on all three ropes let go at once. The weight bearing lengths snapped with a resounding 'clack' and the water soaked up within them fired out in all directions. Some looked fearfully up at the ship, fearing the strain would break the ties right off the massive hull but Grum merely grinned with pride. He had no doubt she could take it.
The men caught their breath and took turns on the winches as the ship slipped into the dry dock with a bit of added ease. Grum nodded in approval as he stood there watching over the work.
"Captain?" called out a messenger. A short, squirrelly character in noble uniform, now damp with sea water. "I have greetings from the baron."
"Huh?" Grum replied, pulling the sweat from his face with one large hand. "Oh right. Yeah, I'm the captain. Just not used to it yet."
"Captain Karset?" the messenger asked with uncertainty.
"Ah, no. The good captain died in the attack. Our engines suffered some damage, the captain saved a lot of lives sacrificing his own to keep er going til we hit the wet."
"So, he's uh, dead then?" replied the messenger with a doubtful expression.
"Look 'ere. If'en yer sure yer message is fer the captain..." Grum acknowledged with a little nod, "ye kin find the good captain in the engine room if'en ye like, but I'm afraid he's a bit a of mess at the moment. If'en ye find the other half of 'em, let us know, alright?"
"Uh, no thanks. You must be First Mate Grum then." the messenger did his best to keep his composure despite his cheeks turning a little green with thoughts of the ill fated captain.
"Ai, ye speak the truth," Grum nodded, clearing another soaked hand from his face. The men around him working tirelessly to finish bringing The Arbiter in. The vessel gradually bearing down on the two men talking directly in front of the creaking bow.
"The baron has heard news of the attack and is grateful for your courage. You and no more than six men are to deliver the cargo to the baron's estate, but only you will be allowed within to present yourself the baron personally. He'd probably like to see you anyway under the circumstances."
"Ai! Such refined gratitude! I shall wear my finest evenin' dress," Grum chuckled to himself. All nobility was the same to Grum. He'd only met a few in person since he'd been promoted to first mate, but they all seemed the same. Fat, bloated with money from the people and their main concern was making sure everyone suffered under their girth. Karset had always spoken highly of the baron, but Grum had his doubts.
"The baron apologizes he cannot host your crew for dinner, but..." the messenger began more humbly.
"No, no, tis fine. We'll bring the baron 'is plaything within the hour if'en we can." Grum turned to stare up at the sad state of such a fine air ship. "The sooner we can part with 'is mess the better."
"Perfect. I'll inform the baron." The messenger gave Grum a brief salute and swiftly turned on his heels to head out of the dock, but a heavy hand clasped his shoulder and quickly swung him back around.
"Befer ye go, would ye like to shake hands with the good captain?" Grum used his other hand to rummage through his back pocket. He saw the messenger start to vomit a little into his mouth.
"Ha! Just giving ya a pull! We never found 'is hands neither!" Grum laughed as he watched the messenger quickly pull himself away and hurriedly leave only to vomit against the side of the dock.
"Argh, these noble-types ain't got no respect for the dead. Serves 'im right," Grum mumbled before turning towards his crew. "Alright you sons of balls!" cried the boisterous new captain of the Arbiter. "Let's git this fine baron 'is prize."