The fiefdom of Baldric is the largest fiefdom in the land of Charlton. The land of Charlton had formerly been the Aurelisian Empire, 1273 years before our story takes place. About 200 years before the voyage of discovery was begun, the great empire had collapsed into disorganised fiefdoms, where the leaders of each fief fought with other fiefs for land and riches. Baldric itself is forested and chilly in the north, with several mountains, known as the "backbone of the earth" to most Baldricians, running through the northern parts of the country, where the river Garrith is transformed from a cold mountain stream to a vast river, which flows in turn into the river Kylar, running from east to west in the middle parts of Baldric. Some strategic cliffs line the riversides, where castles and fortresses of varying age are found. The south side of the river Kylar has a small break in the cliffs where one can enter the Kilarian Valley. From the Kilarian valley, hilly plains eventually turn into smooth plains. The land south of the plains has several dry riverbeds which are now used as paths, and then the paths lead to the great sea. Our story begins in Castle Ursina:

Christopher Peregrine sat in lessons with the castle schoolteacher. The schoolteacher taught the pages, the children of the Duke (the scullions and stable boys were ignored in matters of education), and traveled with the Duke of Baldric's household. Currently they were in Castle Ursina, the summer residence, south-east of the important city Kingsley and a short ride north of Marton, the most important port in the fiefdom of Baldric. John, Christopher's father, traveled with the Duke's family. John was highly respected by the king (he was the only man to have gone to the University, in addition to the fact they were both raised at the royal castle). The schoolteacher's young charges were taught reading, writing, and arithmatic, in addition to history. History and reading were normally Christopher's favorite subjects, but the past few months had been hard, due to the heat and the boringness of the current subject: Ancient History, or the Aurelisian Empire. The schoolteacher had been enthusiasticly trying to teach his young students Aurelisian script, which was little more than a bunch of circles and half-circles with diagonal, vertical and horizantel lines drawn through them, as if whoever had devised it had made some mistakes. The teacher droned and droned and droned on like a cicada. Christopher's eyelids drooped, and his elbows slipped gradually and gradually out from under his chin, and he nearly fell into slumber before his father burst in, nodded to the schoolmaster (who nodded back and continued to talk in a monotone about the Aurelisian script, sending some of the pages into slumber), and grabbed Christopher by the arm, dragging him to the stables. Christopher instantly came awake, and asked his father where they were going. John Peregrine replied they were heading to Marton. John told a stable boy to ready their horses and hold them in the cobblestoned courtyard, then the two went to their apartments to pack. Christopher packed some spare tunics and breeches (following his father's directions), in addition to his dagger. They mounted their horses and set off on the way to Marton. (This page is first-person from the view of Christopher)

We set off around three o' clock and reached Marton by dark. On the way there, I attempted to query why we were going to Marton, especially on such a fine summer day. As far as I knew, no important visitors were expected, no new ships were being built, the fief of Rexongila was at war (Rexongila was our chief trade partner, but we each minded our own business). A million reasons flew through my head, each one of them possible. I had heard talk from a page about some kind of expedition, but I quickly dismissed that thought and asked for the final time what we were about to do. Father acted as if it were water sliding off his cloak and said we needed to reach there by dark, and hastened his horse to a gallop, to which I responded by doing the same. Once we reached the city walls, we slowed and a guard challenged us from the walltop. After Father showed a scroll saying that he was a trusted counselor of the Duke, the guard apologised and called up to open the gates. After another profound apology, he bowed and held his hands towards the gate. Father replied, "Thank you" and continued on. After turning back in the saddle for one last look outside the city, I hurried my horse to catch up. I thought I could sight the towers of Ursina, but maybe it was just my imagination.

After riding throughout the streets (father still wouldn't give any clue as to where we were going), we came to a plain-looking wooden building with a wooden anchor hanging above the door. Father walked in and I followed. Merchants barely looked up from their haggling at long wooden counters to notice us. I followed Father through the maze of men until we came to a mahogany counter. The merchant behind the counter asked us haughtily why we where here, and Father laid a scroll on the table. The merchant cocked an eyebrow and read it. He motioned for us to follow him to his office, and Father laid a map on the table. He began to talk about an expedition to explore. The merchant asked again, haughtily, if he had the money. Father drew a burlap sack of coins out of his tunic and dropped it onto the desk with a clink. The merchant's eyes began to shine, and asked how many ships. Father replied five, and after counting half the money out onto the table, the merchant chuckled and said there was only enough for four there. Father looked as if he were about to lose his temper, but he calmly replied, "The Duke will pay your fee." The merchant guffawed, rubbed his hands together, and handed over a piece of parchment. It said something about some cogs named "the Adventurer, Explorer, Reliable, Expeditious, and Majesty now being hired by John Peregrine of the Fief of Baldric."

It was now almost dark, so we headed to an inn where we payed a few coppers for a meal and bed.

(now in the third person)

The next morning, Christopher and his father walked out to the quay. Five cogs were being loaded with provisions for their next voyage. A man standing at the head of the jetty held up a hand and asked where they were going. After showing him the document, he took it aboard each ship, where at least one person walked out of the aftercastle and asked what it was about. They would debate for a few minutes, then the other people would walk back into the aftercastle. The Adventurer's captain offered to hold a short meeting in his ship's captain's cabin, since it was the largest, and the captains of the other ships boarded the Adventurer. After clearing off a large oaken table, he bowed and sat to the right of the head, where Christopher's father sat. The others came in, arguing about what they might be summoned here for, when the Adventurer's Captain, a sturdy and experienced captain, pounded his fist on the table and bellowed for everyone to cease their arguing. The captains followed his order and listened to the proposal. Christopher's father stood up, took out a map- scroll, and spread it on the table. He began,

"Gentlemen, I have called you here for a notable calling. The Duke of Baldric, my overlord, has made a decision. As you most likely know, the areas to the south," he pointed to the map on the wall behind his chair to illustrate his point, "north, west, and east are unexplored. In the interest of further trade routes." At this point, the merchant captains ceased their whispered arguments and leaned forward, listening with their undivided attention. "Which you know means more business for your employers, Christopher de la Baldric, Duke of the fief of Baldric, has comissioned me to lead five ships on an exploratory voyage. As your employers bestowed your ships upon me, I will lead this expedition to the ends of the earth if I have too!" The captains clapped, and before dismissing them, he told them to not mention it to their crews. The captains lingered to ask a few questions, then gradually disappeared. The Adventurer's Captain told him they'd be ready to cast off tomorrow. Christopher's father nodded and told him that he would be the flagship. The Adventurer's Captain introduced himself as Andrew Weller, and after shaking hands they left to inspect the ship from stem to stern. Christopher felt tired all of a sudden, and walked out on deck. Early the next morn, the small flotilla cast off, flying the flag of the fief of Baldric: a white background with a red ship. The ships were sillougetes that resembled mountains until the sun rose more, when the pink and mauve clouds on the eastern horizon became visible. Banners on top of the fore and aftercastle showed a yellow chevron with a green background. Seamen untied the ropes that held the ships to the quay, and the morning tide floated them towards the open sea. The crew unfurled the sails, then the helmsmen turned their ships from side-on to bow-on, and a north wind billowed the sails, sending them south. The lookout in the crow's nest of the Adventurer, the flagship, stood vigilant, watching for any imaginable danger, as did the lookouts on the other ships. The crews adjusted the sails, then half of them went down to sleep while the other half came up: they had been divided into watches before the voyage. By noon, the ships had been heading south. The flotilla docked in one line, and the captains conferred in the cabin of the Adventurer. The decision was made to head east, and the ships weighed anchor and headed due east. By now the wind had changed to a westerly wind, and they made good time. Several days later, they reached a small island. The ships landed, and John, Christopher, and the captains, accompanied by three sailors from each ship, each wielding spear, bow, or sword, walked around the island. After exploring for a while, they discovered a fresh spring, as well as some deer. Captain Weller and Christopher's father locked themselves in the captain's cabin of the Adventurer, drawing a map, so Christopher watched the Explorer sail around the island. It drew up alongside finally, and the captain and the lookout boarded and knocked on the door of the captain's cabin. The captain appeared at the door and opened it just wide enough for them to get in. Christopher's eyelids began to droop and headed for his bed belowdecks.

Christopher thought he heard the mast cracking. He turned over and saw a flash of light. Thinking it was somebody with a candle or lantern, he walked over to the hatch and looked out. Nobody was out on deck, so he looked around until he heard a earsplitting Boom. He climbed up the ladder and looked around, subtracting the possibilites in his head. Nothing was cracked, but of course it was dark, how could he know? Another flash of light, and yet another rumble. He turned hurriedly around and saw lightning on the horizon. He yelled "Storm! Everyone, there's a storm!" He pounded on the captain's cabin's door, and the captain came out and rang a bell. Most of the crew materialized out of the hatch, and the captain professionally ordered them to furl the sails and drop anchor as fast as possible. Another earsplitting boom, this time closer, and Christopher thought he saw a tree in the forest start to burn. Everyone soon got under cover and back in their beds.

The next morning, everyone awoke to a calm. The Expeditious had a torn sail, which was fixed. The flotilla rowed east, since the eastern wind plastered the sails against the masts. Several days later, two long sandbars extending as far as the eye could see to the northeast and southeast were sighted by the lookouts. Since the captains were reluctant to risk their ships in any further exploration east, the small flotilla (reluctantly, on Christopher's father's part) encamped on one of the sandbars, riding just offshore at anchor, as it was just beginning to get dark.

The next morning, all awoke to eerie yells on all sides. The lookout reported about twenty men on horseback riding up to the ships. The ships quickly weighed anchor while archers in the crow's nests and forecastles fired arrows to keep them back. Finally the ships reached deep enough water to turn around, while the archers in the crow's nest and rearcastle fired arrows until they were out of range. From a quick count during the battle, nineteen of the assailants had been slain and a single archer had been wounded.

Later, they reached the island they had camped at six days ago. After replenishing supplies and fletching a few more arrows, they headed west. That night, they reached a small island, barely more than a hump of sand and dirt sticking out of the ocean, and encamped on it, once more just offshore. The water leading up to it was deep enough for the ships to sail right up onto it, but that would've taken up nearly the whole island. The captains added the small land mass onto their maps.

After several days, the Expeditious, the fastest ship, sailed off to explore the area with the Explorer. They discovered another island, then another, and finally, one that looked like it could fit about four cities the size of Marton, or maybe two castles the size of Ursina. The captains recorded it as Enterprise Island.

The next day, for the first time, the party split. The Reliable headed north, to explore and see what was there, the Expeditious headed south, and the rest of the party headed west, as before. At a passageway between what looked like Baldric and a landmass to the south, as well as the open ocean in front of them, the ships stopped.
The captains had a meeting that lasted nearly all day while the sailors washed their clothes, repaired their clothes, repaired the sails or any other damage, and basically had a day off. It was decided to hug the coast to the north. The Expeditious had arrived on the scene just in time to join up with the rest, and the convoy sailed off. That evening they made camp about two shiplengths off the shore, while at least one of the ships would sail around, watching the other ships.

A few days later, the crew of the ships awoke to bellows and the twang of bowstrings. The Majesty caught fire and began to list when a few flaming arrows and fireballs from what looked like catapults onshore hit her. While the other ships sailed to just offshore, the archers in the rearcastles and crow's nests fired arrows at the enemy. The ships turned paralell to the shore and started firing volleys of arrows at some small longboats heading towards them. After several men were lost on both sides, the rowboats headed back to shore and there was a temporary lull in the fighting. While the ships attempted to head north, some smaller cogs sailed out and fired a volley of arrows, which mostly stuck in the side of the ship or the crow's nest. One ship sailed and grappled itself to the Adventurer, getting ready to board, when a volley of at least a score of arrows hit their targets, for each arrow hit one man in a lethal spot, killing him. The smaller cog drifted uselessly, and some sailors cut her ropes, tied her tiller to head her towards the other ships, and set her on fire, igniteing two of the assailants. The Explorer delayed the attackers and was severely damaged, and the smaller cogs began drawing alongside. The Adventurer had the biggest advantage for her sailors, as she was the biggest ship, but her attackers had the advantage in speed and manuverablilty. There was a bit of fierce fighting on both sides, and a few fierce fencing matches, but the ships managed to break away and pile on all sail while the attackers attempted to follow, but all the damage they did was a few more arrows sticking out of the rearcastle of the Explorer. After another meeting, they decided to turn south.

After another month, they had seen what would later become part of the Aureolian Empire and added quite a bit to their map. After their long voyage, the sailors worked harder, each knowing they'd be heading home. Finally, Primia (the first island they had discovered) was sighted. After taking on some more supplies, the ships sailed using their new map. They had lost three ships, the Majesty, the Reliable, and the Adventurer.

The Adventurer had been lost when she ran aground during a storm, so what had been salvaged from the Adventurer was loaded aboard the Explorer, as she was the biggest ship left. They sailed into Marton harbor, but I'll tell that in Christopher's words:

We sailed into the harbor, our pennants ragged and torn from several storms and battles. Once a fisherman saw our ships while he was fishing, so he told the merchant we had borrowed the ships from. He sent a messenger on a fast horse to Duke Christopher, and by the time we arrived at the docks it looked like everyone in the fiefdom was there, cheering. The duke, his daughters, and his wife stood at the head of the dock. The Explorer bumped against the dock, and Father walked down the gangplank, kneeled at the foot of the Duke, and presented the map to him. The duke told everyone that a great feast would be held at Castle Ursina.

We traveled by horseback to the Castle, where we ate and drank for several days and nights. Near the end of the feast, the duke summoned Father and told him to kneel in front of him. Father did as he was told and was knighted as Sir John Peregrine. Many toasted the new knight, and we feasted until midnight, if not later.