The Log of Amelia Primrose: Part 8

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17 May 319

We have spent five days collecting food and wood from the surrounding countryside, building up our supplies after nearly running out on our journey northward. Luckily, the weather has held; we have all been sleeping under the stars here on the butte, with our supplies kept under the few makeshift tents we still have. Today, however, has been a flurry of activity here, and much of the day was spent building makeshift shelters to protect us when the weather ultimately turns for the worse. Tonight, for the first time in two weeks, I am sleeping out of the elements, in a cabin built on top of the ruins.

Shelters in the Ruins.png
It is cramped quarters; I share this cabin with ten other women. It is better than we have had since leaving Fort Upton, however, and for that I am eternally grateful. Our hunting parties have managed to bring in plenty of meat from the wild pigs that roam the forests north and east of here, and having a full belly has improved both the spirits our small band and their endurance.

I must sleep; this has been a long day, but a good one, and I look forward to what tomorrow brings.

More entries behind the cut.
19 May 319

Last night, Duncan told me that he has begun talking to a number of the other prominent men of the camp about what to do for the future, and he told me that there is a great deal of agreement that our first priority now should be reestablishing contact with the Empire, or at least the colonies elsewhere in Oestria. Surprisingly, Mr. Tyler was not the strongest advocate of this position; he seems to have become invigorated by the last few months' travails, and I think part of him has come to see the adversity we've experienced as something of a forge for himself. However, many of the colonist men do not share that opinion, and think that we will profit greatly from the support of the Empire.

I can certainly understand that feeling; I only worry about the effort it will take to build a ship capable of the trip across the ocean, back to Knightsport, or even up the coast to Nightsbane. It will take a great deal of work just to build the tools necessary to build such a ship properly, not to mention a great deal of wood for the hull and cloth for the sails. However, I will trust Duncan's judgement in this; if we can do this without harming our chances of survival, it will certainly keep spirits high and do the most to ensure a prosperous future in the long term.

21 May 319

Today, Duncan made the announcement to the camp that we would begin work on a ship in the harbor. Though he reminded everyone of the work it will involve, it seems as if most people are relieved at the prospect of making contact with the rest of the world again. Most of the rest of the day was filled both with speculation on what it would involve and beginning the work of building the tools we'd need to gather supplies and begin laying out the hull of the ship. I helped arrange the shelter we've set aside for construction work up here on the butte; it is not quite up to the level of Mr. Fellows' workshop back on Fort Upton, but it is enough to get started with the arduous task before us.

Inside the Construction Shelter.png
Duncan has put Captain Nichols, the captain of the colonists' ship, and Mr. Fellows in charge of the shipbuilding project, and for now, most of the work is focused on chopping down the trees we'll need to build the hull and a small dock we can use eventually to load and unload the vessel. That will all begin tomorrow; for today, much of the work has been in planning. I took notes while Duncan, Captain Nichols, Mr. Fellows, and several of the other men discussed what would need to be done for the ship, as well as for improving the living conditions for us here.

The scale of what they are discussing is truly amazing; the ship is not to be simply small sailboat but a true oceangoing vessel, not quite as large as the Dunsany Star, but impressive nonetheless, quite able to ply the seas between here and the Empire if necessary. It will require a great deal more work, but it will also be more likely to make the hazardous journey safely. The ship is not the only ambitious item under discussion though; Duncan thinks we can turn the butte and the surrounding area into quite a thriving colony. They are discussing carving a number of buildings out of the mountain itself, and then building more homes and a marketplace around it. It sounds very exciting, but I wonder if it is a little much to be thinking about now.

Still, the thought seems to have filled Duncan's eyes with a bright optimism that I have not seen in some time, so for that I am thankful. I must get some sleep now, as there will be a great deal of work to be done in the morning, but as I close my diary tonight I am filled with hope that our long ordeal that began nearly six months ago may finally be creeping towards a resolution.

30 May 319

For the last week and a half, the sound of axes and falling trees has been a constant din, even from our camp here atop the butte. Every man in the camp almost, with the exception of Mr. Tyler's hunting party, has been at work gathering lumber for the ship and its docks; when they are not chopping down one of the mighty oaks that surrounds the butte, they are sawing the logs into planks. Mr. Fellows has made a number of casts for making nails, and he and Duncan have been scouting the area for exposed iron veins, of which they have found several.

Much of the wood for the ship's keel has already been set aside, and I suspect within the next day or two they will begin laying it out. Mr. Fellows has already designed a frame to build it in on the shore, near where the docks have already been built. I have to admit I am surprised by the progress that has been made so far, but the close quarters here are beginning to take their toll on me; I would like somewhere to sit with Duncan and talk, like we used to. Unfortunately, everyone is so close here at the camp, and wandering off at night, despite the fact that we have yet to see the monsters that tormented us previously, is still quite inadvisable, which makes it a bit impossible for us to get away.

Still, I have caught his glances over at me during the day, when he is busy with the shipbuilding work and I walk by, carrying wild mushrooms I've picked up to the camp or taking food and water to the workers. I find myself thinking of him a great deal during the day, and I am almost embarrassed by how it sets my heart aflutter. Hopefully, one day soon, we will be able to have some time to each other.

4 June 319

The keel and lower hull of our ship were placed in the water today with what seems like the first bit of fanfare we've enjoyed in a good long while. Can it really be that it was only a month ago we were fled Fort Upton? It is hard to believe. But now, we have what is our first sign that this time will be different. Cradled in its submerged framework, the hull now sits just to the side of our simple dock, stretching more than 100 feet from end to end.

Laying the Revenant's Keel.png
At this rate, the ship could be done in just a few months, though there has been some discussion of pulling some people off of shipbuilding tasks to begin building some residences. I know that I have seen Duncan speaking to Mr. Fellows and Mr. Shackleton, and they have been working on some designs for structures built into the cliffs of the mountainside. As lumbering continues around the mountain, we are clearing more and more space as well, so there may be space to build some small homes close enough to the mountain to be safe.

I must admit that I am growing a little bored with domestic duties, despite the fact that I know gathering and cooking food more important now than ever, with our hunting scaled back so that more men can work on the ship. I did not spend those years at university to become a chambermaid, however, and for six months now, most of what I have done is either the kind of physical toil that even these men find grueling or the kind of work I could have started doing years ago if I was so inclined.

As much as I do not want to be a burden or a bother, I hope that soon I can return to the task I originally came here to do; cataloging the natural wonders of this land and, perhaps, practicing to be a physician, though with no one to train me now that seems rather difficult. Still, once we make contact with the Empire again, I hope that I will be able to pursue my studies once more.

8 June 319

Work continues to move swiftly on the ship; when I went down to the docks today, I could see that the next section of the hull had been laid down and the bowsprit was beginning to be lifted into place.

Hull of Revenant From Docks.png
Even though it is not seaworthy, the ship is already beginning to take some of the younger people in our camp on voyages. I overheard Evyn Shackleton, son of the carpenter, and Lauren Bauer, another of the colonist children, playing together and pretending to be on a voyage across the sea. All of the children had been quite withdrawn since our flight from Fort Upton, and this was a welcome sign of a return to something resembling normalcy. Even now, as I sit upon the butte and write this in the late afternoon, seeing the the ship in the water from here is a reassuring symbol that there is life in this place, after that long trek across deserted land.

Hull of Revenant From Camp.png
12 June 319

For the past three days, a storm has been battering the coast here, lashing us with wind and rain. Thankfully, our shelters are holding up well, and we have move our supplies into the staircase within the mountain, where they are quite safe out of the storm's reach. Before the storm hit, Captain Nichols and his team of shipwrights managed to tie down the hull of the ship, and from what Duncan could see the last time he stuck his head out, it looked to be holding. Unfortunately, there's little work that we can do on the ship in this weather, and Captain Nichols is concerned that many of the tools they were using may have been damaged by the storm. Until the it lifts though, we have little way of knowing.

Since little can be done outside the mountain until the storm ceases, the men have decided to begin work on making some places we can live inside the mountain instead of here on top of it. This will also give us some stone that can be used to build a fort atop the mountain, something which can act as a bulwark against the return of our pursuers and the center of a new colony. They began the backbreaking work of carving into the stone yesterday, landings on the staircase below the top of the butte. I am not sure how far they will get before the storm lifts and the ship once more becomes a priority, but we shall see.

14 June 319

The storm has lifted, finally, and we have begun to sort out the damage. Though the ship doesn't appear to have suffered much damage, but many of the tools and supplies for the ship that couldn't be brought inside were damaged and will need to be repaired or replaced. Captain Nichols thinks it will only slow the completion down by a week or two at most, but everyone is obviously still disappointed by the setback.

In order to prevent this problem the next time a storm hits, Duncan and Captain Nichols have decided to temporarily halt the construction of the ship and focus on building something that can serve as a construction hall for the shipwrights; no only will it give them a place to put their tools, but it will also allow us to have another place of shelter, and hopefully things won't be quite so cramped up here on the butte. They have already begun building the foundation from stone cut out during the storm, and they plan to do more quarrying from areas inside the mountain we can later use to build residences and storage areas.

Hopefully, it will only take a few weeks to build the construction hall, and then they will be able to move back to building the ship.

19 June 319

Duncan took me aside last night after dinner, and we slipped away from the top of the butte, into the bowels of the staircase's depths. Though the view was certainly less impressive down there -- aside from the staircase itself, which is still a marvel to me -- it was just like our nights at the top of the keep in Fort Upton, and it was good just to spend a few hours talking and holding each other. When he kissed me after we had been kept apart for so long, I felt myself give a long sigh, as if weeks, months of tension had suddenly been let out of my body like air from a balloon.

Mother...well, she would not have been very happy with how I acted, I suppose, but it seems hard to act very ladylike in such conditions. I do not think it much matters, considering that we have seen each other at our worst over these many weeks and we still have such feelings for one another.

When the moonlight began shining down through the center of the stair, we made our way back to the top of the butte, still holding hands, his body close to mine; most of the others had gone to bed. Only Mr. Tyler and Mr. Yancy were still awake standing watch, and when they cast their gaze towards us I am sure I turned ten shades of red. They, however, said nothing, only giving Duncan and I knowing smiles.

When I went to my bed in the women's shelter, I lay there for what felt like hours, though I am sure it was not nearly so long, just staring at the logs of the ceiling, inhaling his smell still on my clothes.

27 June 319

There's been little time for writing the last week; in order to get the harbor building done as quickly as possible, all the men of the camp have been at work cutting stone and wood for construction, leaving most of us women to handle foraging for food and bringing water to the butte and the construction crews. The matter took on more urgency last night when another storm, thankfully much weaker and and faster moving than the one two weeks ago, came up and forced us to cut the day's work short, at least outside the butte.

However, the final touches on at least what will be the first floor are complete, and it sits near the docks at the edge of the bay. It isn't much right now, but tonight twelve of the men in the camp are sleeping there instead of the top of the butte, giving us some extra space up here.

Harbor Building Half Complete.png
Inside, there's not much at the moment, aside from a few benches and other things the shipwright crews need to do their work, but there is plenty of open floor space for them to spread out their bedrolls on and a roof over their heads; that was more than some of them had here on the butte, where space is still at a premium.

Harbor Building Interior.png
While the men were working on the finishing touches, I and some of the other women prepared a small celebratory feast, if you can call it that, with some chicken and mushroom stew. Duncan and I ate our meal on the top of the new building, with an excellent view of the mountain. From down here, even with our small shelters on top of it, the mountain looks deserted; only the new building and the docks are evidence of our little colony.

Butte from Harbor Building.png
For as meager as the meal was, the celebration did seem to lift everyone's spirits a bit and made all that work seem very much worth it. There was a great deal of excited and joyful conversation and several rounds of singing, and by the time the moon began to rise over the mountain everyone was nearly exhausted from the day's work and the following merriment. Duncan and I spent much of the festivities just sitting next to each other and holding hands, watching the others sing and dance, until we were chided by the crowd for just sitting there, and they dragged us to our feet to join in.

I have never been much for dancing, but it did not take long for a smile to find its way across my face, spinning with Duncan holding me tight. I do believe it is still there, even as I finish this entry in my diary in the dwindling firelight.

2 July 319

Captain Nichols and his workers have finished the upper deck and forecastle of the ship at last; the workshop in the new harbor building seems to be helping the effort considerably. Considering the tools we had available when we started, it is a testament to both Captain Nichols' leadership and Mr. Fellows' smithing skill that they have made so much progress so quickly.

Revenant Forecastle Complete.png
With it coming along so nicely, Captain Nichols and Duncan have given the task of putting together sails to the women of the camp. We've already set to work finding as much suitable cloth as we can find; luckily, much of the sailcloth from the colonists' ship was saved before and brought with us on the journey northward, as we were using it for tents and other temporary shelters. I am not sure how much of it is still suitable for use as a sail, but hopefully there will be enough to make do, especially since our ship is a bit smaller than the one the colonists were on.

Meanwhile, inside the mountain, a small crew has been at work carving out more space. We've moved much of our supplies into the mountain to protect them from the elements. Due to the danger associated with the work, I haven't been able to get in to see the new space, but I'm told it's quite large; eventually, it should provide space for many people to live in, at least temporarily.

10 July 319

Duncan has asked me to marry him! He told me that if the hardship of our last nine months was necessary for him to find me, then it has all been worth it, and he wants to make me his wife. I could not help but feel giddy at the thought, and I'm afraid I must have seemed like quite the foolish girl when I blurted out a barely held-back "Yes!" before he'd finished. The strength of my feelings surprised even me. We have decided to wait until after the ship sails -- Captain Nichols has agreed to do the ceremony, in lieu of an actual priest, but we have decided to put it off until the ship is ready to sail, when hopefully there will actually be a place we can spend our wedding night.

It pains me that I cannot send word of this happy event to mother and father, but I plan to give a letter to Captain Nichols when he sails. Hopefully, he can get it into the right hands, at least eventually. Speaking of Captain Nichols sailing, the sterncastle of the ship was completed today as well, making it nearly complete, except for the masts and sails. They have already found a sturdy oak for the main mast, but finding two others of suitable size for the other two masts is proving to be difficult.

Revenant Sterncastle Complete.png
Duncan assures me that they will find suitable trees; the forest to the north is quite large, and the chance of there being no trees of suitable size for the ship is exceedingly unlikely. In the meantime, while progress is stalled, more work is planned for inside the mountain, and we continue to patch the cloth together that Captain Nichols will need for the ship.

12 July 319

The main mast was raised on the ship today, an impressive sight with Captain Nichols and Mr. Shackleton leading two teams of men with block and tackle to lift it into place. The mast towers over everything else near the beach, giving a commanding view of the shoreline, I'm sure -- I personally have no intention to find out, however, as I do not want to attempt that climb, no matter how much Duncan tells me it is safe.

Revenant Main Mast Complete.png
Every new step towards completion of the ship takes on new meaning for me, as I know that brings my wedding day closer. The women of the camp have all given me their congratulations, and tell me how happy they are to see that I am finally ready to settle down. I am not quite sure I like the sound of that, I admit -- I do not intend to give up my studies -- nor, to his great credit, has Duncan asked me to. I do not think it is too much to ask for, for me to have my own work, though I suppose if Duncan and I have children that will change things a great deal. It is not that I do not want children -- I do, and I want to give Duncan a family -- but does it have to be right away? I suppose that will be up to the gods at this rate, as I do not think I will find an apothecary anywhere soon, but if they are listening -- I would that they wait until at least I get the chance to really see this land.

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This page contains a single entry by Chas Blackwell published on March 1, 2011 10:00 PM.

The Log of Amelia Primrose: Part 7 was the previous entry in this blog.

The Log of Amelia Primrose: Part 9 is the next entry in this blog.

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