63. New World, New Start

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New World, New Start

Thirty long months had passed since the people had landed and established a new village on the shores of the bay of the Chesapeake. Stories told around pubs and places of gathering of an army wiped out in the Old World by demons or magic, depending on who was telling the story, and all the local population just nodded and smiled.

The Dead Army of the Earl had gone down into the legends along with the Lost Legion of the Roman Empire, no one would know what happened to the soldiers, why they died or where people of the village went. All anyone knew was that whoever went into the village often did come back. Those that were able to return, died with tears of blood coming out of their eyes; this suited Conn and the others well enough. Let the legends grow, as the Draoi taught, and have the lands be free some day.

In this new world of trees and hidden waterways, Conn continued to build ships of  new and amazing designs that were fast beyond belief. The ships that had brought them here had done so in unheard of time of twenty-eight days, fully two weeks faster than normal. The demand for his ships that he built with the new forward and aft sailing rig design.

But Conn and his family did not open to all the secrets of the new ship being built. Conn knew that he had a growing reputation, he had built the swiftest of ships. Small though the ship designs were, he would be able to earn his way to sell more of this design, with special emphasis on better designs for those fishing sailors of his village.

Beli and Conn where speaking quietly one sunny afternoon about a new design of merchant ship that the younger O’Danu had dreamed up. They approached by one of the original people from the area with an invitation to come speak with the Chief of a local tribe. The tribe had gotten too large to move with the small canoes and they had desired to use sail but had no skills in building a sail powered canoe. The tribe of the original people wanted to move as one, to travel farther with the O’Danu craft and resettle their village to places that they had only themselves had visited when winter came, away from the more severe storms that had moved in from the sea, flooding some of the areas of Conn’s village and great expanses of the other lowland areas, washing out any homes in the lower area near the rivers and bay.

The First People of the new world were unwilling to fight the English alongside the Irish that they had identified with, their leader and chief, a loved and respected elder that loved peace, had complained that the large canoes had become ungainly and needed control of the directions they chose. After a few days in the village and drawing on a plank of wood with charcoal, Conn had developed further what they had used but with more imagination and his knowledge and experience involved. A large flat board, called a steer-board that slid over the side into the water and adding a centerboard that also attached midway allowed for better directional control.

Required to tell stories every night in the lodge, Conn finally ran out of stories that all the tribe would laugh at, the history of the Draoi and the Druids came to the fore, in the end telling about how the English came and slaughtered all they could and burned their villages. They asked Beli to show the scars of the wound he had gotten from the arrow. The pouch of Eire he wore around his neck was of great interest to the other warriors and elders who showed off their pouches that they also wore.

Nodding and accepting that there was a common thread among the people of that far away land, the Chief accepted Beli and Conn as brothers. That night a party started to celebrate friendship and kindred spirits. After a night of smoking and the offer of friendship, the Chief allowed Conn and Beli to leave with the compliments of being good and proper guests and that the soldiers in red were a common and distrusted adversary.

Conn came home after a month away with thoughts rolling around in his head, of a dagger board that could be lifted up in the shallows of a bay or harbor. This next ship will have a sharp bow, he would build it without castles and give it ports for twenty-four guns.

His imagination tossed it around in his head. Ten cannon to a side, two each in bow and stern. She would be a fast turning and sailing ship. Crews of such a fighting ship would need to practice with the new design. Conn dreamed up enough room for the gun crews to work with carriage built to swivel a few degrees to allow the long and short-range guns to focus on one point. These were fighter ships, the ports were well concealed to the outside view. They worked well as small merchantmen, but they had a bite. Pirates respected the diminutive ships as the Dutch, French and English navies avoided direct confrontation unless they outnumbered the smaller ships three to one or more.

This new style of ship, with rigging forward and aft would be far superior to any merchantman ever seen before, it would outrun anything he had built before, be able to out-turn any other ship of it’s like.

The newest ship, as yet unnamed as he pondered its construction, would carry him and his crews down to the Caribbean to search for his family and the families of the others taken from the villages in the Old Country.

“Several privateers have asked you about a new ship. Can we build any more?” Asked Sean Lally, the sole male surviving member of the family of the raid of the Earl of Ormond. His father and his mam hid him with his sisters in the caves along the coast, keeping the children safe.  Even with a promise from parent to child that they would return, death took Sean’s parents in the form of the Lord-Lieutenant’s army.  It was the last time the dour and dark Sean had believed in promises or laughed.

“We will need more construction crews to build them if we do.”

Conn nodded. They needed to push to build more of their ships. Conn wanted a fleet to send to the Caribbean. His son, missing for nearly three years, he had heard of  stories of an oddly rigged pirate ship of Irish children that were laying waste to anything English that floated. The boy was becoming easy to follow as he left destroyed ships everywhere he went.

The English Navy had lost no less than seven ships-of-the-line and numerous smaller ships to this sloop of children.

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Sail into the harbor of my soul; tell me your heart

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