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    The Duke's Admiral, Part 3 (Chapter 6)
    Posted on Sun, September 14, 2003 by Trickster
    Mario_Greymist writes "What happens when good men do nothing? Some might say the Greyhawk Wars was the result of such: Evil expanded unchecked by the forces of Good until it was almost too late. In the Duchy of Urnst, unmarred by the recent horror that had swept most of the Flanaess, Duke Karll Lorinar-the Ranger Duke of Urnst-has seen the fruits of his own benign neglect and has vowed that past mistakes will be rectified…

    The Duke's Admiral: Chapter 6
    By: Mario_Greymist
    Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    You can read the previous installment of the story here

    Chapter 6
    4th of Coldeven, 588 CY
    4th Bell, Nightwatch
    Leukish, Duchy of Urnst

    "Take a seat, gentlemen." Admiral Horatio Kaste said as his captains, Victor and the Commandant of Marines, Hansel Bruleigh, entered the study; "There is tea on the sideboard if you need it."
    "I could use a cup." Zan said.
    "Pour one for me, please, Zan." Hansel asked as he took a seat next to the door.
    Zan and Albureth poured tea for the others and then sat themselves.
    "Gentlemen, thank you for the work you've put in today. We've accomplished quite a bit in such a few hours," at that Horatio smiled for they had been working for almost twelve hours straight, "but there remains much yet to be done."
    "While we're in private, let us drop the titles and ranks. I will expect naval discipline in public, but we have too much to accomplish to waste time on titles and ranks in private. We all know who and what we are." Horatio said, meeting everyone's gaze.
    The captains and Hansel nodded. They had all served with each other for many years and there was no danger that familiarity here in private would breed contempt.
    "Good. So let us to business." Horatio said, "Nias, did you capture Admiral Wystern?"
    "Aye, Horatio. He's safely in the brig, but he was on his way out of Leukish when we arrived. Apparently someone got him word that we were coming, or what had happened here this morning with Admiral Montdidier." Nias Patri replied.
    "An informant among the servants, no doubt. These admirals did not trust one another much, and I can see why, after reading what Admiral Montdidier had recorded in his logs." Horatio said, "We can assume similar word has been sent to Nystran and Admiral Morin." Horatio turned to the gray-haired cleric of St. Cuthbert, "Hansel, what is the status of the new Marine Corps?"
    "Worse than I feared." Hansel replied. He swirled the tea in his cup as he continued, "Ficks and I inspected the Leukish detachment and we're agreed that we're better off starting from scratch. The lot of them are incompetent, lame, poorly trained or corrupt."
    "Is that what Ficks said?" Zan asked with a knowing smile. The colorful language of Anton Ficks, the late Chief Petty Officer of the Wrath of St. Cuthbert and now the new Sergeant Major of the fledgling Marine Corps, was renown.
    "No...but what Ficks did say isn't polite for mixed company." Hansel replied sardonically, and tipped his head towards the rangy, dark-haired Albureth, who chuckled and blew the older man a kiss and a one-fingered salute. The rawboned woman would never have been mistaken for pretty, striking or hawkish more aptly described her, and despite a Baronial family she was too forward and ribald to be accepted in gentle company.
    Horatio ignored the byplay and said, "Understood. Do as you see fit, Hansel. Tomorrow morning I'll have a draft off the Navy expense accounts ready for you. If you need more gold, let me know."
    "Gentlemen, as the Navy is in such a mess we're going to restructure it entirely. Right now I can't trust any of the senior officers commissioned under the previous admirals, and from what I have read in Montdidier's logs, many of the petty officers are just as corrupt."
    "Nonetheless, we must deal with the situation swiftly. Under normal circumstances, I would simply place all of you in positions of command, and for now that's just where you will be. But as our actions will reflect on Duke Karll, and will be examined with a magnifying lens by the Honorable Chamber, I won't be able to keep all of you as senior staff, lest some enterprising nobles decide to claim I'm building my own navy off Ducal revenues."
    "That's fine, sir." Albureth interjected, "I didn't sign on to be a staff officer anyways."
    "That's the gods' own truth." Nias added.
    "I'm glad you think that, because I have been receiving word that indicates we're going to need fighting ships sooner rather than later, and as of now your three ships and The Wrath of St. Cuthbert constitute the Navy's entire fighting strength."
    "You're not serious, are you?" Nias asked in amazement.
    "I am. Zan inspected all the hulls currently moored here in Leukish, " Zan nodded with a grimace as Horatio lifted a parchment that detailed the condition of the naval vessels, "few are truly seaworthy, and none of them are combat ready."
    "Not all the ships sailing out of Leukish are currently in port, which bodes well for their seaworthiness, but I can't vouch for their combat effectiveness." Zan added, "Twelve of the thirty-five Leukishan ships listed in the Admiralty records don't exist, or were decommissioned and sold off years ago."
    "The proceeds of such sales were kept by the Admirals." Horatio concluded.
    "How could they get away with this for so long, sir?" Albureth asked.
    "Lord Governor Hadric had a hand in some of it, corruption at other levels of government, and the constant bickering between House Kaste and House Teranor played their parts." Horatio said, "all told, from what I can discern from Montdidier's notes, and guess from other sources of information, the three admirals have made away with several million gold."
    "Devil's spit, you say!" Hansel said in tones of surprise.
    Albureth whistled and Nias whispered in awed tones, "Olidammara laughs!"
    "Fortunately most of that can be recovered as it is not fluid wealth, but in properties, art, horses, jewels and banked investments." Horatio nodded.
    "Albureth, I want you to coordinate with Victor on enumerating Navy holdings, including anything held by the three Admirals and senior captains. I don't know how smart it was, but Admiral Wystern banked with the city vaults and used a Navy lockbox. I sent word to the treasury and city vaults that those lockboxes were to be sequestered pending investigations by my staff. Here is a letter to Yulius Vanderbilt and Gloria Bouchmont with my signature assigning you to the task."
    Horatio held out a sealed letter and a scroll to Albureth.
    "Nias, I'm sending you up to Nystran. I'm hoping to catch Admiral Morin before he can escape, so I'll want you to sail tonight. With all the work that needs to be done here to get the Admiralty into shape I'll be detained from inspecting the shipworks and the harbor there in Nystran, so I'm brevetting you to Senior Captain until such time as we have a more organized command structure."
    "You will be in charge of the naval detachment in Nystran. Make an inspection of the ships in the naval yard, anchorages, supply situation and the shipworks. I'll want a full report from you in a sevenday." Horatio continued, and held out several scrolls sealed and beribboned, "As we can't trust the current Army detachment, Artemis Luttenbocher, Lord-Commander of the Ducal Guard, has detached a squad of Guardsmen for you and they should be waiting for you aboard Wavedancer. They're under the command of Lieutenant Kale."
    "You sure know how to make life miserable, sir." Nias said as he took the scrolls. It was near eighty miles up the coast to Nystran: anywhere between twelve or thirteen hours by ship. Nias and his crew would have their work cut out for them to sail from Leukish to Nystran and take charge of the Western Command all in one night with little rest.
    "Zan, you've already had a good look at the ships in harbor today, but I want you to go back and decide which ones can be repaired quickly and which aren't worth the effort and can be cannibalized to repair other ships."
    Horatio lifted another scroll and several folded papers, "Additionally, I want you and whatever crew you need from Albureth's Bold Raven to arrest the officers and petty officers on this list. They're all wanted for questioning, some are certainly guilty, but not all of them. Treat them well, but don't let them escape. You may wish to begin tonight before the word gets out."
    "Nias is right, sir, you do know how to make life miserable." Zan said and accepted the documents from Horatio.
    Horatio turned to the silent Victor. As a naval apprentice he served aboard Horatio Kaste's flagship, The Wrath of St. Cuthbert, a gentleman and future captain if he learned his craft well. As a Teranor he had been raised in a wealthy House, but unlike many of House Teranor he did not exhibit the arrogance, guile or malice that came with his upbringing: but rather showed the common good sense of a respectable merchant. He was well liked by the officers and petty officers of Horatio's ships, and took no more than the usual ribbing a naval apprentice got from the common sailors.
    "Sir, do you have orders for me?" Victor asked after a moment of silence.
    "Victor, " Horatio began, "an Admiral cannot have an apprentice as his adjutant. An adjutant must have the rank and authority to speak on behalf of the Admiral, as needs must, and have his words respected by officers and ratings alike."
    "I understand sir." Victor said, "Perhaps it would be best if I served with one of the other captains?"
    "Would that you could, son, as I know each of these captains is more than capable of providing an excellent education." Horatio said, "But I need you here where your administrative skills and communication abilities can be put to full use."
    "Therefore, " Horatio lifted a beribboned document as he stood, "if you would please stand."
    Victor, looking confused, did as he was bid. The other captains looked at him with smiles and Hansel had a quirk of a grin pasted on his face.
    "Do you, Captain Victor Teranor, Peer of the Duchy of Urnst, Suel Lord and Descendant of Suel Lords, pledge your life, honor and liberty to the honor and safety of the Duchy of Urnst, to abide by the regulations of the Navy, obey all lawful orders, and to serve with distinction even to the giving up of your life?"
    The import of the words was not lost on the stunned Victor, "But, sir! I haven't completed my apprenticeship. I can't be a captain!"
    "If it were a case of you skippering a combat vessel, I would have to agree, Victor. But you have the skills and abilities to do the job that I need you to do now: which is to help me with the mountains of administrative tasks that require personal attention. For that, you are more than qualified, as you have proved in the past. If you wish, you will continue to apprentice under myself, or one of these able captains, for your sea ratings."
    "I don't know, sir." Victor said, looking at the smiling captains. The young man flushed in embarrassment.
    "It's not a good idea to turn down a promotion in the Navy, son." Hansel Bruleigh said with a smile.
    Victor straightened and with a serious mien nodded at Horatio, "Aye-aye, Admiral. I so swear."
    "Captain Teranor, here is your commission. Bear it in honor and uphold the traditions of the Navy."
    "Thank you, sir." Victor took the paper and couldn't help but break into a youthful grin as the captains and Hansel added their congratulations.
    "Albureth, detail Gil Van Ott to assist Victor. He's got a level head and decent measure of common sense. Victor, listen to your petty officers, but remember that you are in command."
    Horatio sat and continued, "Victor, as well as coordinating with Albureth, and with Hansel as needs must, you will draw up designs for the new naval insignia and uniforms. Additionally, I want you to catalog the valuables of this mansion and get an estimate of their worth. Give some thought about how you would convert this mansion from the posh noble residence that it currently is, into the new headquarters of the rebuilt Ducal Navy."
    Horatio's eyes dropped to the fancifully carved hardwood desk, "And get rid of this monstrosity and get me a decent desk."
    Victor nodded, "Aye, sir."
    "That's it gentlemen. I'll see all of you, except Nias, tomorrow at the fourth bell of the morning watch for the execution."

    As the officers filed out of the Admiral's study Zan fell in with Albureth, "Can I swing by the Raven and gather some ratings and a couple of petty officers. I want to round up as many of those captains and petty officers on the Admiral's list as I can, as quickly as I can, before the word spreads too far."
    "Certainly. I need to let Van Ott know that he's detailed to help Victor anyway. Walk with me and we'll talk. In all likelihood I'll want to question some of those officers in regards to embezzled funds and mislaid naval property." She replied.
    Victor followed the departing captains, but as he was billeted in the mansion he was in no hurry. He had only spent a year as an apprentice under Captain Kaste, not long enough to learn all he needed to know about commanding or sailing a vessel; yet here he found himself at seventeen as a commissioned captain, and an aide to the most powerful Admiral in the Duchy of Urnst.
    Victor turned to Hansel who was walking beside him behind the captains, "Hansel, I mean...Commandant."
    "Yes, Captain." Hansel replied, green eyes twinkling in amusement.
    "I'm not sure I did the right thing." Victor said nervously, "Accepting this commission, I mean. There are things that I haven't learned yet, and I'm afraid that I'm going to make a mistake."
    "Lad, you're going to find that life doesn't always wait until you're ready. More often than not it'll smash you upside the head when you're not looking, simply out of spite." Hansel said, "It's why mankind needs the blessings of the gods, lad, and a patron like Saint Cuthbert who understands the travails of common life."
    "But aside from that, what you will be doing is less captaining a ship than pushing papers and making administrative decisions, just like you were doing in your father's trading house since you were a nipper."
    "It's what you've been raised to do all your life, just in this case you're doing it for the Navy and not for House Teranor." Hansel stopped and turned to Victor, "Victor, you're going to find that being an officer has a lot of privileges, just like being the Lord of a House. But more than that, an officer has a lot of responsibilities: to his men, to his commanders, and to the Navy itself."
    "A lot of bad officers forget that with their privileges come responsibility. We're seeing that now. If you're wondering how you can be a good officer," Victor nodded emphatically, "and it speaks well of your character that you are, I would suggest you take care of your responsibilities. You'll find that the privileges take care of themselves."
    "Thank you, Commandant." Victor said, a little flushed at the mix of praise and advice from the older man.
    Hansel clapped the young man on the shoulder, "You'll do fine, young Victor. The Admiral has a lot of faith in you."
    "And now, I'm off. Sergeant Major Ficks and I have a lot of planning to do before the dawn."
    With that, Hansel Bruleigh strode off, leaving Victor to ponder his words.

    Check out the next installment of Mario's tale! Click here!

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    Re: The Duke's Admiral, Part 3 (Chapter 6) (Score: 1)
    by Mystic-Scholar on Sun, October 04, 2009
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    Another good continuance. It might appear "slow" to some, but completely necessary information in order for the story to move forward.

    Well done again.

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