The ship made straight for the cliff wall, nudged along by tugs. From this vantage point it was impossible for Boran to see the cave mouth he knew was there. He braced against the railings for the sound of rending metal.
The ship disappeared and the tugs zipped back into the fjord, tooting excitedly at their achievement. Boran set off for The Shaft. His guard was closer than normal, he noticed, and some of the workers were eyeing him. A thousand spans straight down would be too tempting an accident to happen to an important official. Away from the cluster of buildings, he could hear the roar of the Tyalin falls again, where the great river of the Plains plummeted into the fjord.
Some of that water was being redirected. Sluice gates were being opened to start turning the gears that closed the huge gates across the cave entrance. The three pressure locks would begin filling when the doors were locked into place. The Shaft filled slightly faster than the tide rose, but the conjunction did help to equalise pressures.
Water was being redirected from the river to The Shaft now, flowing into grooves in the wall and hardly sloshing on the way down. Far below were the lights of the ship, its bulk lost in the shadows. Boran wanted to stay to see the ship raised and released into the river. He had never been allowed out here as a child, never known anyone with connection to this fascinating piece of engineering. But the transfer would take until high tide and he wasn’t allowed to spare that much time.
The Shaft master was waiting at the control cabin with the log of ships through the system. One up and one down was the usual way of things, but in the docks above and below The Shaft were three days backlog of ships. Boran checked the manifests. “You can get smaller barges in the empty space?”
“It is complicated, but yes sir.”
“Then that is what you do. The Maneet can offload and head back upstream, carrying what little the Shinto has aboard. Shinto takes on Maneet’s load and returns down the coast.”
The crew of the Maneet would not be happy, no-one was attacked sailing down the coast to the warm thighs of their wives. They could take it up with Janssen, and Boran would ensure a rota so each ship had its tour up the river.
There was nothing else to do here. “Someone bring my motor around. I must get back to my office.”
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