The Sinking of the Hammer
Commissioned by Consul of Hornsburg Sigismund Stolt, the Hammer was meant to do just that to Hornsburg’s rivals during an ambitious campaign planned against the southern Free Cities.
Initially, construction of the Hammer was assigned to the famous Natalian shipwright Enrico Ascia, who laid out a plan for a large and imposing warship, albeit one that deemed not sufficiently large to meet the grand ambitions of the Consul and leading citizens of Hornsburg.
The watchword was “superior firepower”, leading to demands of more and bigger guns. Despite Ascia’s sensible and well-reasoned protestations about the practicality and seaworthy of a ship that was more gun than ship, Consul Stolt could not be dissuaded and insisted that the Hammer be made bigger to accommodate these demands for more guns.
Ultimately, the stresses of constantly having to revise his plans and his inability to reign in the Consul’s increasingly impractical demands caused Ascia to drop dead of a heart attack.
His widow was awarded a ham in compensation.
He was replaced by his apprentice Johann Lehrlingberg who found himself similarly overwhelmed by the task before him. After a mere two weeks, he promptly abandoned the project, fleeing Hornsburg in a false moustache and glasses and adopting an assumed identity in Porthaven.
The highest ranking shipwright left remaining at the Hornsburg shipyards, a thoroughly bemused Elf by the name of Constantine Pelagophilos, with a mere year and two months of inexperience, was impressed into completion of the task.
Like his predecessors, his objections and pleas for some semblance of sanity concerning the project’s parameters went unheeded. Unlike his predecessors, he saw the project through to completion.
In large part thanks to threats of several novel forms of execution for failure.
It is noted, however, that he was at least allowed to sign a legally binding affidavit absolving him of any responsibility should the Hammer sink on its maiden voyage within sight of the dock.
This is, famously, exactly what happened…
Upon its completion, the Hammer was one of the largest ships ever seen in Realmgard, with seven decks, six sails, a complement of 146 guns and elaborate ornamentation, including no less than seven solid gold reindeer (reindeer being the emblem of Hornsburg).
It also promptly proved itself one of the least seaworthy.
The exact details of the sinking vary and contemporary eyewitness accounts are contradictory. What is agreed is that a light crosswind caused the Hammer to begin leaning to port. Due to its unwieldy construction and weight, the ship promptly lost balance, allowing the water to enter its numerous gunwales and promptly capsizing barely off the dock and in full view of much of the population of Hornsburg.
Luckily, the close proximity to dock allowed the entire crew of the ship of escape to safety, though the incident remains a longstanding source of humiliation for the city.
It is said that the unquiet, but ultimately smugly self-satisfied ghost of Enrico Ascia haunted the shamed Sigismund Stolt for the rest of his days and that ghostly moans of “Told you so” can be heard echoing the Consul’s Palace at Hornsburg even to this day.
FYI, this one is basically a true story.
We watched a video about it as a stern warning against mission creep in one of my Professional Writing classes.
In fact, here it is:
Basically, if you want your boat to make it out of port, don’t keep adding cannons and woodwork to it…
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