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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 35: Kondor 53
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Previous chapter: Chapter 34: Hastings 55
As it happened, the journey to Durnmist was swift and nearly uneventful. They were caught in a storm for a couple days, but once they emerged were able to locate themselves with the aid of Kondor's clock, and found that although they were off course significantly they were actually farther along than they would have been without the weather. They also charted the location of an island that was not on their maps, but didn't stop to explore it.
By the time they reached Durnmist, Kondor was ready to stretch his legs; unfortunately, the port was under quarantine, and no one was permitted ashore. It was another week to Tempest, where all going ashore faced the obligatory customs inspection for weapons and other contraband, but even with the risk of being unarmed in a fight he was getting stir crazy and had to stand on solid ground for a bit. He had been at sea so long it took several minutes for him to adjust to ground that wasn't moving. He walked around the port a bit admiring the ships, vessels which would have been museum wonders in his world which here were often ill-tended, taken for granted. He admired their masts and rigging, and the more so now that he was familiar with their operation. It was in his blood now. If he ever got home, he would have to join one of those yacht races just to do it. The tall ships still fascinated him, as one given the opportunity to step into the past and live things which to his friends and family were the romantic moments of history. Despite the hard work and harsh realities of the age, the awe of the moment still held him when he paused to consider it.
They spent only one night in Tempest, and were soon bound for the triple volcano at Tristar. The mountains were quiet there, and they took an extra day for shore leave before pushing on to Haven's lush shores, the crescent-shaped island Moon of Korg, and finally Sardic. Kondor signed on to continue as an assistant navigator, but got pilot commander Stanis to promise to let him drive once in a while. There was only one thing he wanted from this world, and he used some of his pay to get it: a well-made sextant he could use here and perhaps in other worlds to plot the stars. He stayed on the ship, ate his meals in the galley (and lent a hand there so that Doc Evan and the medics could go ashore for a while), and planned for the next trip.
Turnaround time was about a fortnight, and it passed quickly enough. They were on their way, a few of the old crew gone and replaced by new, but all those Kondor knew well still aboard. The port was closed at New Tempest; it occurred to Kondor that he might be able to change this world for the better if he turned his attention to medicine. But it wouldn't be easy here. Back in Nottinghamshire he had never thought to change the world; he had built his hospital, tended the sick, and taught a few others to do the same, and his lessons about antibiotics, antiseptics, sterile technique, infection and fever control, and general patient care had been carried throughout England. Here he really didn't have a place to start, a way to present himself as a foreign doctor with techniques unknown in these countries. He was a sailor, a navigator. He had saved a few lives, but changing the world just wasn't on the cards this time.
As they emerged from Rough Passage, one of the deck hands reported a ship, apparently run aground on one of the last shoals. Although the distressed ship act was a favorite ploy of pirates, this proved to be a genuine call for help, and with a day's effort they managed to rescue crew and cargo before continuing to New Haven. The ship was low in the water from the weight, and cargo was stacked on the deck for lack of space in the hold, and the galley was mightily taxed by the increased demand at meals, but the rescued were very grateful, and left some of their cargo for Captain John when they disembarked at the agricultural port.
This was also where Kondor needed to launch his plan. He took the morning to wander the city (no one offered to guide him, as this had been the port he had identified as home). He had decided on fruit, something that was hardy enough to survive a couple weeks if he managed to get it before it was fully ripe. He found peaches, which would be ideal–few ships would dare attempt to move such a fruit across the Lesser Syndic to Emerald, but it would make it if the trip was fast, and he was confident of his ability to navigate as long as there wasn't any trouble. He hedged his bet with pears and apples, which had a longer shelf life. He treated it as an investment in cargo, and spent thousands of diktar on it.
His gamble paid off handsomely. He was able to bring them to Emerald inside of two weeks, and traded the bulk of his fruit (he had eaten some of the peaches, and shared them with the crew) for a large crate of uncut emeralds. It was heavy, but he now had something of value which could be used as currency wherever he traveled.
Before he would be able to have them cut, cleaned, and polished, he would have to get the ship across the Greater Syndic, the vast ocean in which there were so many potential dangers.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #86: Novel Conflicts. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: