On the Docks
The docks were filled with people trying to board ships. My sister tied a rope to my waist and her waist. We used to do that when I was younger. I would get distracted by something in a store or a crowd, and she would lose me, or I would lose her. The rope kept us on the same path, she would say. Then, with the rope secured, she pulled me into the crowd.
We got jostled around a lot. People were impatient. A few people got stuck between us on the rope and would yell at us. My sister apologized profusely and would quickly move us away. After the second time, she held my hand to keep me closer. I was only ten at the time, so I couldn't see much in the crowd and didn't have the mass to push through many people.
It got a little easier, and then we made a hard left and approached a longboat. You know, the kind that larger boats have on their deck or attached to the back? That was our ride. My sister had made arrangements to get us out of the country, but it seems that many people had the same idea. However, most of them did not have their plans made ahead of time. I think my sister had some pull with that captain too.
We were greeted by a man three times my size who had tattoos all over his torso and face. He knew my sister's name, so I figured we were in the right spot. I answered when he said my name, but he was intimidating. I tried not to look at him too much. His colors shot around him like lightning. I felt like if I sat too close to him, I would get shocked! But, it was ok because my sister held me close, and we sat on the opposite end of the boat as he untied the ropes and pushed off from the dock.
Two people tried to jump on board. The man promptly tossed them into the water. He cracked the one in the head with his elbow. The other one he lifted over his head and threw into the water. Then, he called to the rest of the crew on the boat to start rowing for the Dìondair Malairt. When he said it, the words rolled off his tongue. His pride and belief in the ship made me shiver with excitement. I had not met someone that true to their path except my sister.
I could see some fights breaking out on the docks. My sister tried to distract me with some riddles, but I kept an eye on what was happening. The waves of emotion were getting all blurred. They were becoming tall, like tidal waves, and rolled over the crowd. We got too far away for me to see what happened, but I can't imagine it was good. Other than the few orders to the men on the oars, everyone was quiet and somber. Even my sister spoke to me in whispers.
The Dìondair Malairt was a spectacular sight as we approached it. Lightning occasionally sparked around the hull. The sails were furled but were bright white. They glowed in the dimming light.
Torches or Globe lights adorned the ship. You could see glistening metal beams that reinforced the hull on top of the wood planks. We climbed a ladder to reach the main deck. The crew on the longboat proceeded to dock their boat at the ship's stern once we were on board. The main deck was wide and full of sailors and marines.
The first mate was yelling commands, "The Dìondair Malairt is underway! We are going to a close haul! Tighten the main sheet!" a few seconds later he called out, "Ready to tack?" and in unison, the crew responded, "Ready." Upon the Stern Deck, the helmsman called out, "Tacking!" The board turned sharply and picked up speed as they headed out of the port. My sister and I had to grab a railing.
A man with fish-like features and the same height as my sister approached us. He had a tall trident and shield. Maybe the trident helped him balance because he moved without the help of a rail and was not bothered by the rocking boat. "Welcome, I am Valrus, with the Justice of the Deep. The captain will show you to your quarters once the Dìondair Malairt is making way." He bowed to my sister and me. Then stood by us quietly. His colors were blue and calm. He was calm and untangled.
I found out later the Justice of the Deep Marines are like knights of the ocean. They joined the Dìondair Malairt because the nations and city-states of the coast wanted to fund a ship that would protect trade and fight sea monsters. Those are core ideals of the Justice of the Deep. They demanded that the ship not be controlled by any sovereign except the captain. A council made up of each participating sovereignty provides some oversight but rarely intervenes. This arraignment turned out to be crucial to our escape.
The captain came over shortly after that. A bird on his shoulder, his long flowing robes, and the magical aura around him gave away that he was a spell caster. The bird said "Hello!" to me first. The captain put his finger up to the bird's beak. "Dylara," his tone reminded the bird to be silent. "Ranon, it is good to see you, but you cut that a little close." Ranon nodded. "Sorry old friend. Things deteriorated quickly. Thank you for coming to pick us up."
The tall man with tattoos from the longboat approached. "Ah, Mr. Asarlai. How was the excursion to the dock?" He was the Boatswain for the ship and third in command. Mr. Asarlai grunted his disapproval of the trip. "I'll feel better when we are on the open ocean." The captain agreed, "It seems the Dìondair Malairt's job keeps getting more complicated. That chaos is going to breed trouble for the trade routes. Let's get our guests below deck and settled."
My sister and I had to share a bunk. It was in an open space with the marines. The crew had more bunks another level down. There were private rooms for diplomats on the crew deck as well. In our space, there was a small storage room where I could change and get cleaned up.
I spent most of my time looking over the railing on the main deck. The ocean was such a calm place for most of our trip. I could see why the crew had wanted to be out there.
The hold was more like a crawl space, but it was large enough that they often transported high-end goods and important supplies. On the third day of our trip, the cook pulled out a barrel of still living blue crabs. They could jump so high it was almost like they could fly. I wrangled a couple of them back into the barrel. The ship's cook steamed them right on the deck.
All hands joined in for a party that I can only describe as a celebration of the sea. At the end, the crew gave a toast to the ship and each other. When I was offered a taste of one of the last barrels of Thorngage Ale, my sister declined for me.
Captain Ceann Seòladair
Table of Contents
- Captain Ceann Seòladair
- First Mate Chiad Companach
- Boatswain Tyr'On Asarlai
- Cook Dùmhail Bruich
- 16 Sailors
- 4 War Mages
- Commander Valrus
- 2nd Commander Maron
- Plus 22 Marines
The Ship's Layout
What was it designed to do?
The ship was designed to look like a regular sailing ship. The two masts and shallow draft present a profile that looks more like a merchant ship than a warship. Unsuspecting pirates or raiders get too close before realizing they are the ones being hunted.
The Dìondair Malairt is a pirate hunting ship. The war mages disable approaching ships. The marines, born of the water, are used to counter boarding parties or strike once an opposing ship gets within 100ft. Their harpoon guns securely attach them to the opposing ship. They wait in the water until they can swarm on board and capture (or eliminate) the crew.
Where does it travel?
The Coral Coast is full of large city-states, kingdoms, and powers that want to trade. The ship sails the coast to keep the shipping lanes clear. If they receive word of pirate attacks, they will focus their path to that region. They have a network of communication stones that allow verbal messaging to each of the sponsoring powers. The ship will respond to hails for assistance and calls for intervention. The Captain retains final decision-making power on which missions to engage.
How large is it, and what is it made from?
The ship weighs 200–300 tons and is approximately 80 feet (24 metres) in length. The hull comprises wood planks from a species of Live Oak, an evergreen variant from the far South. The planks' resistance to fire and impact damage give the ship another advantage in a fight. With this sturdy construction and its shallow draft, the Captain has run over shallows, luring pursuing ships to their end.
Strips of metal alloy crisscross the hull. The Captain can command the hull to be polarized, and crew members electrify this network of metal strips. Polarization provides two benefits. First, it provides resistance to magical attacks. Second, it creates a thin boundary between the hull and the ship, giving it a speed boost.
Does it have any unique markings both outside or inside?
No, specifically no. There is a collection of flags in the hold to blend in with whatever waters they are sailing. The metal bands embedded in the hull are easy to spot when polarized. The crew must time the command to activate them right if they do not want to be detected.
About the Story
Thank you for reading my challenge article! Check out more stories by following my world:
One of those stories came together back in February 2021. I was playing D&D with my friends. I wanted to write about a ship that a player & I brainstormed. I wrote an article (Mood) that was part of The Storytelling Collective's Flash Fiction February Challenge now it's the worldbuilding for my #WAShipChallenge submission.
I just kept writing after finishing the challenge. Keep up to date with the new flash fiction, poetry, novels, and ttrpg games built around these characters and others by joining my newsletter!