Authors: Muffy Morrigan
Tags: #1 Priority
The Sail Weaver
THE SAIL WEAVER Copyright © 2012
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
First Edition 2012
Cover design by Georgina Gibson
The Sail Weaver is lovingly dedicated to
all those people who have believed in the work
from its very beginning and who never let me lose faith.
Without them Tristan, Thom and Fenfyr would
not exist and the
would never fly.
There was increased activity in the skies over the massive compound of the Weavers’ Guild. Shuttles were coming and going, buzzing around the buildings like flies gathering over a carcass. In the distance, far more graceful than the squat ungainly shuttles, dragons wheeled in an
out of the mountain they claimed as their own. Every once in a while a dragon would come close to a shuttle bearing Naval insignia and the small craft would have to veer off. Under the Edicts, dragons, like sailing ships, always had the right of way over powered craft of any kind, and they knew it.
Tristan Weaver, Master Sail Weaver of the Guild, sat watching the activity through the huge bay windows in his office. He spotted one dragon, black, silvery gray and pearly white, dive directly towards a shuttle with an admiral’s seal on the nose. The shuttle banked hard to avoid the creature, but the dragon followed it, making the pilot work hard to dodge the buildings around the port area of the Weavers’ Guild compound. The dragon followed the shuttle down until, at the very last moment, the dragon pulled away, lifting into the air in a graceful upwards sweep.
The dragons didn’t tolerate most humans, and when they chose to interact with humans they tended to deal primarily with the magicians of the Weavers’ Guild or the elite Dragon Corps. The dragons had watched humanity for a long time before they had finally stepped forward and made contact. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” was their attitude, and
while they distrusted most humans—and the sentiment was more than returned in kind—the uneasy alliance had been made. The dragons had provided the first spell to Weave together the sails that allowed humanity to reach into the depths of space.
Tristan snorted. For all their reliance on science, it was magic that had proved to be the answer in the end. The first ships launched off world during the early decades of the Third World War had been a desperate act to rid the planet of some of the drain on the already over-extended resources. Most of the occupants of those first ships had been forced volunteers; criminals, the homeless—and then anyone else the governments could talk into walking onboard a ship that might take centuries to reach someplace habitable. A hundred years later, the first faster-than-light ships had been attempted, only to be destroyed by what would come to be called the Winds—powerful and massive cosmic forces that resisted any attempt to push against them.
The idea of using sails to propel ships through space wasn’t new, solar sails had been used for centuries, but even with engines to boost their power they were slow and only used between closely connected space stations. In order to reach outside of the confines of the solar system, humanity needed something faster, and their first attempt to create sails to ride the Winds had proven disastrous. The crew and the ship had been crushed the instant it had moved into the Winds.
During the moments before the ship had been destroyed, its cameras had beamed back images of something riding the Winds. Science set out to study this phenomenon, naming them willowisps, and trying to recreate their unique properties in hopes of using them as a way to travel through space. It didn’t work, and the willowisps they tried to bring into the labs tended to explode in human-normal gravity, leaving the studies stuck in the theoretical phase for decades.
One member of the research team suggested they go to the
’ Confederation, a group of loosely connected workers of various kinds of magic. The Craft, as it had become known, had been rediscovered in the early days of the Third World War, first healers, then others started showing abilities with different kinds of magic, and governments were quick to try to use them to their own advantage. The magicians decided to band together instead, and formed the Confederation. The scientific community had soundly rejected the idea of any connection with magic or anything “reeking” of the supernatural.
The buzz of Tristan’s intercom interrupted his musings. “Yes?”
“Sorry to bother you, Master Tristan, but there are some, uh, gentlemen, from the Navy here to see you,” his assistant, Scott, replied.
“Did you inform them they need an appointment?”
“Yes, sir, they
Wait!” There was a muffled grunt. “No! Stop!”
The door to Tristan’s office banged open and several Naval officers walked in, a man in an admiral’s uniform behind them.
“Security report to Master Tristan’s office,” Scott’s
voice sounded over the compound-
Tristan watched the men as they walked towards his desk. “Making an appointment is easier,” he said with distaste. The tension between the Weavers’ Guild and the Navy bordered on overt hostility. The only thing that kept the Navy in check was the fact that the Guild was the only entity in the galaxy that could train the Weavers to use the magic needed to create the sails for their warships. “As well you know, Davis.”
“Admiral Davis,” one of the other officers growled.
“We have a problem. I don’t have time to do a song and dance with your secretary,” the admiral snapped, walking up to Tristan’s desk. “The Vermin are planning an attack and we have to stop it!”
“That’s the Navy’s job,” Tristan answered calmly, counting off the seconds. The admiral had about fifteen seconds before security arrived.
“Yes, but you and your kind are suffered to exist
“Excuse me, what was that?” Tristan asked, leaning back in his chair.
“Sir,” one of the others, a man in a captain’s uniform, said under his breath.
“We need a set of sails,” the admiral went on. Tristan just stared at him. Five seconds. “A special set,” Davis growled.
“Oh?” Tristan smiled as security burst into the room.
“Master Tristan?” David Earle, Head of Guild Security, asked as he came into the room, weapon out at the ready.
“The Naval gentlemen were asking for a set of sails,” Tristan said.
“They need to make an appointment,” Earle snapped. “Show them out.”
“No!” Davis shouted. “This is vital!”
The tension in the room had grown, Tristan could tell the other Naval officers didn’t know what to do—if they should draw their own weapons or drag the admiral out of the room. It was a stand-off at the moment and Tristan was almost enjoying himself. He and Davis had something of a
history, and watching the man squirm was amusing.
“What’s going on?” a deep voice asked from the doorway. Brian Rhoads, Guild Master of the Weavers, strode into the room and up to Tristan’s desk as if they were the only two in the room. He smiled his sly smile at Tristan before turning to face the admiral. “Ah, Davis, I thought you understood we had protocol here, or have you forgotten that at Naval headquarters?”
“I came to see the Weaver,” Davis spat out.
“We have many Weavers, it is in fact our Guild, in case you hadn’t noticed,” Rhoads said in his bass voice. He loved the sound of it, Tristan knew, and the man was taking full advantage of the acoustics of the office.
“Sir, I said…” the man in the captain’s uniform said. He looked young to be a full captain. Tristan guessed they were about the same age.
“What’s that?” Rhoads picked up on it immediately.
“Nothing, Barrett is speaking out of turn.” Davis turned to Tristan. “We need a set of sails.”
“So? Go through channels,” Rhoads interrupted.
“We don’t have time! We received intelligence that the Vermin are planning an incursion into our home space. We need something big out there to stop them, and since we lost the
we have nothing in that class.”
“And that is our problem how?” Tristan asked, seemingly calm, but wondering why the Navy hadn’t approached them sooner.
“We have a ship, we’ve been working on it, but we need the sails for her, we need them quickly and
“You need the best,” Rhoads finished for him. “Which is why you decided to storm into Master Tristan’s office without bothering to ask or go through channels?”
“We don’t have time!” Davis shouted. “We need these sails started immediately, we don’t have time to play games with the Guild with assignments of a Weaver who won’t be good enough; we don’t have time to play games with you about who will be the Warrior you choose to assign to the sails.”
“Oh, really?” Tristan spoke up for the first time since Rhoads’ arrival. “What is so special about these sails?”
“I told you,” the admiral growled.
“You said you needed them quickly, any one of my masters could Weave sails quickly. There is something more going on here.” Tristan
looked from the admiral to the other man, the one Davis called Barrett.
“It’s the largest ship ever built,” the man muttered, he glanced at the admiral, but went on. “The sails will need to be
” He made a gesture with his hands that was something between a shrug and something else, then slowly approached Tristan’s desk. He carefully unrolled a set of plans on the wooden surface. Secret documents were all still rendered on paper. It made them harder to steal and reproduce.
Tristan stood to get a look at the design of the ship, running his hand along the graceful sweep of her decks. There was something
about the ship, he couldn’t tell what it was, but there was something that spoke to him as he looked at the lines on the page. “
” he said, reading the name on the corner of the page.
“Yes,” the man answered.
“Her masts must be,” Tristan paused to calculate, “seven-hundred feet.”
“Can’t be done!” Rhoads said, peering at the plans.
” Tristan looked at the plans for a long time, then out the window, thinking of what it would take to create those sails. “How soon would they need to be ready?”
“Yesterday,” the admiral replied.
“Too bad, you should have thought of that the day before yesterday, then,” Rhoads said. “Get out.”
“Wait,” Tristan said softly, looking at the plans again. He let his hand rest over the drawing of the mainmast. Rhoads was glaring at him through narrowed eyes, and Tristan understood why, it looked like an impossible task, especially in a hurry; not only to build the sails, but then to attune the Warrior Weaver, the members of the Guild that served on the ships, to them. “It will take at least four weeks.”
“Impossible! We need them sooner. I don’t need to listen to Weaver rhetoric about
“Four weeks.” Tristan’s voice was barely above a whisper, but it had the effect of a shout. The admiral cut off his tirade in mid-sentence and stared at him with wide eyes. “Now get out of my office. Leave the plans.”
Davis was opening and closing his mouth like a fish out of water, gasping for air. He blinked, started turning red, blinked again and one of the junior officers with him grabbed his arm and tugged him through the door, followed by Earle and the Weaver security detachment. The captain lingered behind, watching the admiral go.
“Thank you,” he said quietly, and snapped off a formal salute.
“I haven’t done anything yet,” Tristan answered.
“You agreed to it, you didn’t have to. She’s such a beauty and her sails
” He trailed off dreamily. “I doubt we’ll meet again, sir, in fact, I will probably be scouring the decks on a garbage scow within a week. So, thank you again,” the captain said. He smiled hesitantly, then held out his hand.
“Barrett!” the admiral roared from the corridor.
“You’re welcome, Captain Barrett,” Tristan said, taking the man’s hand in a firm handshake.
The officer nodded to Tristan, saluted Rhoads and left the room, carefully closing the doors behind him on the way out. The admiral’s angry shouts were loud enough to carry through the heavy wood and Tristan was sure Barrett was already being assigned to a garbage scow or worse.
“Did you want to get it out of your system all at once, Brian?” Tristan asked, smiling at Rhoads.
“I was thinking of parceling it out bit by bit over the next few days, because if I let it all out right now, I’m pretty sure I’ll set off the seismic warning systems.”
“I can Weave them.” Tristan looked down at the plans again, his eyes running along the lines of the masts. It was as if the ship were speaking to him. There was something about it.
“Weaving those sails could be suicide, Tr
istan, the spell to create them
and hold them will be more than any of us has ever attempted.”
“I know, and the Elemental Interface will need to be something special, unique. I’ll have to start my search tomorrow. That’s why I told them four weeks. It will take time to find the right Elements. There was a place I remember from when I was first in the Guild. The stones
” Tristan smiled. “What I am looking for might be there.”