Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Ice And Fire

Nicholas van Rijn forced the Flock to fight on foot. Next, he gets them to fight the Fleet with a fleet of ships carved from ice! Ice floats but does not burn. Van Rijn's ingenuity is infinite:

(i) most Flock members can wield stone chisels;

(ii) thus, each ship is carved in a few hours and the fleet in a week;

(iii) oil lamps with bellows smooth the ships;

(iv) holes are cut for insertion of mast and rudder;

(v) refrozen water is cement.

There is no time for testing and I am also inclined to agree with Wace that there is nowhere near enough time to solve all the engineering problems that he lists:

How deep should the mast holes be?
Is ballast necessary?
How can clean cuts be made in large, irregular ice blocks?
Should the bottoms be smoothed to reduce drag?
The ice can be strengthened by refrozen mixed sawdust and seawater but in what proportions?

Van Rijn does get some Diomedeans to work under the cold sea water to streamline the bottoms.

When the ice fleet penetrates the Fleet, van Rijn's forces burn some Fleet rafts and board others. The boarders use the new infantry tactics, advancing on foot shielded against aerial assault, still the only form of assault known to the Fleet, whose members rise only to be shot down by archers in a second wave of boarders. Pretty smart stuff.

Since the rafts are dwellings, one female tries to rally the others to fight but van Rijn frightens her by saying that she should stay with her children whom he will otherwise eat. More political lying, which happens to be in the Fleet females' best interests as well.

Regular readers will notice how the war has advanced quickly through distinct stages thanks to van Rijn's innovative inputs. The characters are in the thick of battle at the point to which I have read.

I might post twice more tonight, then this laptop goes back to Ketlan for maintenance tomorrow.

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