The Great Gold Fleet

Great Gold Fleet of Edward II

Pinie the Scrybe
Head Librarian of Albium

Shortly after King Edward II took the thrown of Leogria, like his grandfather Elfred the Great, he became a patron of the various libraries and universities. With Edward’s realm secure though, he spent even more of the kingdom’s gold on these scientific pursuits, and one of his key areas of interest became the study of the universe after the Great Cataclysm. After listening to his advisors and the lead academics in this research explain that they believe the world was in fact spherical like a ball, and that there may be other continents other than Reliquum, King Edward decided the only way of knowing for sure would be to create a fleet of ships to find out.

To prepare for this quest, Edward assigned his best shipwrights to designing the largest, most advanced ships that the world had ever seen. Most ships at the time stayed within sight of land and were quite small, not used to sailing for more than a day without making landfall. The few larger ships of the time had very little room for supplies due to the large quantity of people that were required for the banks of ores, and most of these ships were used on the Blood Sea for war and raiding. Ships designed to sail the open ocean would need to find means of movement with reduced manpower, and a way of storing enough supplies for the crew to last not just days but possibly months at sea.

The other problem would be navigation, at the time with most ships staying within sight of land navigation was easy. However, these new ships would have to travel the open ocean where there would be no landmarks. As such the King ordered his academic advisors to begin work on maps that would show this “spherical world” as it was supposed to be, as well as create a way to navigate the ocean once land was out of site.

Ships

Leogrian Longboats of earlier eras were usually “clinker-built” hulls (overlapping wood), relying on both ores for propulsion and steering, in addition to a rudimentary “steering ore” toward the stern of the ship. These ships would have a single large sail, and were at most 80 feet long and 20 feet wide and having one deck. While the sail would propel the ship in the open water it was not very efficient, and they left site of land almost exclusively by accident.

For a trip across open water, with a minimal crew and large stores a new ship would need to be designed different from the Longboats or Blood Sea Trireme Galleys that were popular in other realms. The new ship would focus on stability and speed for the open ocean as well as redesigned sails and rigging, and could also be maneuvered easily. To design the ships, Edward put his best shipwrights to work as well as bringing in shipwrights from the continent where new small sailing vessels (Caravals) were just coming into vogue.

These architects set to work designing the largest ship of the day, nearly 110 feet in length, 40 feet in width, and containing three main decks, a hold, a “forecastle” and an “aft castle”. In addition the ships contained other technological and scientific marvels such as bilge pumps to remove water that may enter and prevent sinking; as well as four masts with nine sales. And due to the new rigging these ships would be able to sale with a crew of 20 sailors (though there would be quite a few more on board – carpenters, doctors, navigators, smiths, etc).

When the ships were finally completed they were carved, engraved, and painted by the best artisans of Leogria. The sails were dyed a golden yellow hue, and the hulls were also painted a bright yellow so that they stood out like now other ship in existence. The fleet was named the Golden Fleet at the time, and comprised 5 ships that would sail together in what has hoped to be a majestic voyage around the planet. Not only were these ships the panicle of modern technology, they were also works of art.

Navigation

The academics in charge of navigation started with constructing maps of Pangea, which required sending emissaries to the great libraries of Neopoly, as there were no maps drawn from before the Cataclysm. While the researchers were able to find well drawn maps, none of them were from before Pangea’s destruction. They gathered these, and while still in Neopoly used all the maps they could find to draw what they estimated was the most accurate map of Pangea, and then based off what was left of Reliquum drew their best estimation of what could be left of the rest of the supercontinent.

With the wealth of information at their disposal and some of the most intelligent minds of the time assisting them they determined that Pangea had possibly broken apart into 5 continents, one of which being the continent of Reliquum. They decided to name this world of five land masses “Penterra”. After reviewing their work with various universities in Neopoly, they then returned with their “New Map of Pangea” and “Current Map of Penterra”.

With their map completed these men of science then turned their attention to finding a way for the ships to determine where they were at any given time. In an effort to solve this complex problem Edward brought in the famed cosmographer, explorer, mathematician, and scientist, Ralm Lullon, of Galicia. Ralm used his knowledge of the archipendulum and the cross-staff, took into account the difficulties of navigation on the water – such as wind, waves, and then designed what he called the “Astrolatometer”.

Edmund then formed a group composed of powerful merchant captains as well as the sons of the nobility to form the captains and navigators for his fleet. He equiped them with these new astrolatometers, hourglasses, sunstones (captured from Virkung raiders), celestial charts, the new maps, and a way for measure speed (known as Knots); it was believed the fleet would be able to “circumnavigate” the globe. After that they spent a year training with the new equipment, practicing and studying before even boarding the new “Great Ships” that were being built for them.

Departure

In 980 A.G. the entire group (captains, navigators, lord commanders, priests, doctors, sailors, shipwrights, carpenters, and cooks) gathered in Albium, and spent a month doing final preparations for their historic voyage. After the ships were ready, there was a weeklong celebration, with large festivities and religious ceremonies. Finally, on the first day of summer, the first of Flocks, 980 A.G. the fleet sailed forth into the unknown with 275 people in total. The fleet was last spotted leaving the White Straits near Wilt in a south easterly course a couple days later, and has not been seen since then.

Aftermath

At the writing of this history it has been 9 years since the fleet sailed. The great expenditure made to build the fleet, as well as to fund the research left the treasury of Leogria, which was once overflowing, depleted. Several of the great houses gave up their second and third born sons to the voyage hoping to earn favor with the crown, however as the years passed without word they have begun to question if it was worth it. The fleet was expected to return after a year and a half, and by the third year most had begun to dismiss the fleet as a fool’s errand. King Edmunds Great Fleet is now thought of as folly, and his ambition as being foolhardy. Where he had complete control over the Earls when he came to the throne, by the time of his death three years later that control was beginning to fray.

This fleet had once captured the imagination, not just of Leogria, but the surrounding countries as well, but today it is known as the “Fleet of Fools”.

The Great Gold Fleet

Legends of Penterra mefanch