In the dark, smoky forge of Clive, a boy is becoming a man.
Well, at least that's what he feels.
Young Stephen, son of George, has elected to answer his clan's call and join Cedric's Army. For years the northernmost villages of Rainos have been overlooked, except for as an occasional source of tribute. Nothing has ever come from the region but mid-grade goat cheese and hand-woven baskets, until now. In exchange for a base on the miserable, goat-ridden cliffs, Cedric the Bull has promised the protection of his mercenary fleet. Suddenly the village youths had something other to look forward to than foul vats of dairy, and one by one they joined the navy.
A new uniform arrived last afternoon, and tonight Stephen-son-of-George stands in Clive's forge, preparing to depart. He hefts his gun and listens to Clive once again remind him of its use.
Don't lose the gun. Do you know how much a crossbow costs? Forty irons. That's four years' salary to you, boy. Do you know how much one of these guns is worth? Two-and-a-half crossbows. It takes a master gunsmith three weeks in Cedrictown to make a single one of these shooters, and the materials aren't cheap, either. Then there's the transportation costs. Don't try to sell this thing off, either. Sir Cedric personally insures that anyone trying to sell his technology meets a horrible end. Ask me what it is. I don't even want to know what it is. Now, keep it dry, keep it safe, guard it with your life, and if the fighting gets close and dirty, don't you dare use it as a club. Use your nails and teeth if you must. Here's your powder, here's your shot, here's your helmet, and there you go.
The walk to the coast takes the rest of the night, and Stephen arrives on the dock just as dawn breaks to find a steaming patrol ship in the harbor. The captain greets him.
You must be Stephen. You made it just in time; we're ready to cast off. I'm Captain Harold of Gimletstown. Welcome aboard.
Move it, you thrice-accursed monkey!
Hmm, Weezil seems to like you. Whomever he likes, I like. Step on quickly.
I'll pull up the anchor, Farrer will open the throttle, and off we go.
Will all this make Stephen more manly? I doubt it. This guy probably won't last long, even with his chimp.
Clive and His Forge
Here is Clive.
Here is his forge, complete with all sorts of weird offsets.
Sorry, folks, I had some issues editting my page and a Wifi crash somehow cloned the page. To fill you in on the old, deleted comments, I believe that Brick Boy mentioned the technological twist of Stephen's musket (to which I replied that he qualifies for barbarianism thanks to his table manners) and that Freeling ++ liked the forge, which I also enjoyed building with its funny offsets. Feel free to rate it even higher this time around, everyone.