Galleon's Prime - A Portallas short story

       Christopher D. Morgan / Fantasy
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For all the children of the world who are different, weird, odd or don’t quite fit in. Just be patient, for you’ll probably be running things eventually anyway.
Copyright © 2017 Christopher D. Morgan
All rights reserved.

This is a work of fiction. No actual person or event is depicted.

No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereafter invented, without the express permission of the author except for use of brief quotations in book reviews.

This short story has been written using British English spelling and conventions.

6,030 words.


A Portallas short story
Christopher D. Morgan
Galleon’s Prime is a Portallas short story that tells some of the backstory about one of the main characters from the Portallas series of books. Here we learn a little about Galleon, an Imp that comes from a trading port called the Southern Tip, which is located in the far south of a world called Forestium. We first learn of Galleon in Forestium: The Mirror Never Lies, which is book one in the Portallas series.

In Forestium, Galleon is befriended by Joshua, a young woodsman on a journey of discovery. Galleon is himself roaming the land in search of other Imps, as he believes he may be the last of his kind. Galleon’s Prime explains how Galleon came to be in this situation.


The Southern Seas

“One day, Galleon,” Captain Kram said, his head nodding as he surveyed the crew below him on the lower deck, “if you work hard enough, all of this could be yours.”
“What, even those?” Galleon snorted, nodding at the Imps scurrying around preparing the ship for departure.
Captain Kram just chuckled. “Right, you’d better get down there and get these Imps into gear. We should be out of port for at least five days or more on this one.”
“What are we chasing this time, sir?”
“Fludgen. They’re coming into season now and I want to get a head start on the rest of the fleet. If we work the crew hard, we should make it to their breeding grounds in a couple of days. A good haul on this trip and who knows, maybe I’ll retire early and you can take my place. You’ve climbed the ranks and I think you’re ready for it.”
“Oh, thank you…wait, Fludgen? Won’t that mean…sailing around…Wreckers Rock? If the weather turns, we’ll be just another shipwreck that litters the waters there.”
“You wanted to be a fisherman. What’s life without a bit of danger anyway? Besides, it’s not the rock or the weather I’m concerned with; it’s what’s in those waters you need to be worrying about. Come on, let’s get cracking. The tide isn’t going to wait for us.”
“Aye, Captain. The crew awaits your orders, sir.”
“Look alive there,” Captain Kram bellowed. Several Imps previously idling around leapt to their feet. Clearly unaware their taskmaster had returned, they joined the other Imps preparing the rickety ship for departure. Two sailors pulled on various ropes, which caused the main sail to unfurl and drop into place. Several more Imps pulled on various ropes to secure the giant white canvas into position and a gust of wind inflated it. The ship creaked as it began moving through the water.
The Captain was an imposing man. Like all Imps from the Southern Tip region of Forestium, he wasn’t especially tall, but he was stocky with broad shoulders. He was always neatly dressed in his navy blue tunic embroidered with gold epaulettes and long, black, leather boots. His face was always partly hidden under his white sailor cap but there was never any mistaking him with that ginger moustache that twisted into symmetrical coils against both cheeks. There was a presence about the man that Galleon had always admired. Even the way he walked seemed imposing. He was the sort of Imp one could aspire to be, a natural born leader.
Captain Kram had been in charge of the Southern Seas for the past eight years. It wasn’t the biggest ship in the fleet, and certainly not the prettiest, but the crew worked hard and was well disciplined. It was a rickety wooden vessel, with an upper wheelhouse deck and a lower deck, where a dozen or more recesses along the side allowed Imps to stand with fishing rods. Several hatches along the centre of the lower deck led to holding tanks for the fish they would catch. Once a week, the ship would set out to different fishing grounds and once a week it would come back into the port of the Southern Tip to offload the catch.
A thick wooden mast in the middle of the lower deck shot up into the sky and supported the main sail. Fully deployed, the white canvas was an impressive sight and pushed the ship effortlessly through the waters. A smaller jib stretched from the top of the mast to the ship’s bow. As if by magic, a complicated network of ropes and rigging somehow held it all together. When the crew worked efficiently, they could raise and lower the sails within seconds.
With his distinctive gait, Captain Kram walked off, leaving Galleon, the ship’s second in command, to make all the necessary preparations for their next venture out into the open seas.
“Right, you lazy lot,” Galleon shouted towards the crew. “Secure the rigging! I want to be out of port in ten minutes.”
“Where are we heading, sir?”
“Set sail for Wreckers Rock.”
One by one, all the sailors stopped what they were doing and stared at Galleon. Several Imps murmured nervously to each other. The ship creaked as it bobbed in the water and you could feel the tension in the air. Galleon climbed down the ladder from the wheelhouse to the lower deck.
One of the sailors turned to Galleon and said, “Sorry, sir, but I don’t think I heard you right. Did you say…Wreckers Rock?”
“No, you heard me correct, sailor. Why?”
“Well, it’s just…it’s…”
“Just…what? Come on, man, out with it!”
The Imp looked around nervously with the rest of the crew hanging on his every word. “Well…it’s just that few ships go there,” the sailor continued. “Those waters are…dangerous. I wager there are more ships lying on the seabed there than moored up at the Southern Tip…sir.” The crew continued shifting nervously and shaking their heads.
“That’s right, so you better be on your guard,” Galleon shouted and turning around to the rest of the crew, making sure every last Imp could hear him. “We’ll all need to be on our guard for this one. It’s because so few ships go there, that the waters there are so abundant with fish.”
Nobody said a word. They all just continued glancing at each other.
“WELL?” Galleon yelled. “What are you all waiting for? Honestly!” He rolled his eyes and shook his head dismissively.
Three Imps heaved the anchor up onto the deck and one of them tied it off securely. The ship slowly pulled away from the dock.
As they hugged the coastline, Galleon wandered among the crew. Other than the creaking of the ship, the only sound was the rushing of the wind and the nervous murmuring of the Imps.
After a couple of hours, the ship finally left the coastline of the Southern Tip and set out into open waters. By late afternoon, they had lost sight of land altogether and the crew of the Southern Seas were on their own.
Although an able seaman for the most part, Galleon was a reluctant sailor. He never showed much interest in a life at sea whilst growing up, choosing instead to become a Trader. When Captain Kram was still a First Mate, he would come ashore and barter with Galleon for supplies. Kram had built up a trusting relationship with Galleon and eventually asked him to join him as a crewmate on board. With no family to speak of, Galleon accepted the position and the two of them have served together for the past three years.
The ship had been sailing for about three days when a thick fog enveloped the ship. The sea was calm but as the fog thickened, visibility steadily worsened.
“Reef the main sail!” Galleon shouted.
He didn’t want to run the risk of running into Wreckers Rock like so many other ships had before them. With the main sail reefed, the ship crept through the eerily quiet waters.
“Wreckers Rock!” shouted the lookout in the crow’s nest. Everyone looked in the direction the lookout was pointing. Galleon walked to the rail and peered out. Sure enough, just barely visible through the thickening fog in the distance was Wreckers Rock jutting out of the water. Without warning, the wind stopped blowing and the main sail hung limp from the mast.
“Quickly,” Galleon screamed. “Lower the anchor or we’ll drift onto the rocks and end up at the bottom of the sea!”
Two crewmen quickly untied the tether from the anchor’s rode. It followed the anchor down into the water for several seconds before eventually going limp, indicating it had struck the seabed. Two crewmen tied it off securely. With no wind to propel them, there was an eerie silence as the fog drifted and the vessel bobbed up and down. There was a strange noise coming from somewhere in the distance. It sounded like screaming.
“It’s a bad omen,” one of the crewmen muttered. Murmurs of discontent echoed around the ship and several people shifted nervously on their feet.
“Don’t mind that,” Captain Kram shouted, as
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