Lorcan tugged at the hem of his dark grey furs and tried to look at ease. Think of it as a party, he told himself. He had managed to endure countless awkward social engagements at his friends’ huts. This was perhaps easier. There would be no uncomfortable conversations about when he would take up a wife; tonight, he only had to stay quiet and trail after Valdemar as men from other clans brandished their spears and called for war.
It had been just under a week since they’d reached Melbourne, almost a month since Lorcan had first been inducted into the viking government, and he still felt out of place. His fancy new shirt was wrapped so snugly around his chest that it was suffocating, and his furs — well, they swamped his slight figure, making him look even younger than he was. The idea of him one day growing to be a clan leader was laughable.
Across the table, a burly man lifted his spear, and the scattered groups turned towards him, falling silent. “We commissioned a quality boat catch installation,” the man said. His voice was low and gruff, like he swallowed his straw instead of spitting it into the dirt. “While you have all spent the last few years of peace dallying with your livestock, my clan has been equipping our fleet for battle.”
“And the results?” Valdemar asked.
The burly man smirked. “Launch time has been decreased to two minutes.”
A wave of approval rippled through the crowd. Even Lorcan himself, who had never seen a ship in the flesh, drew a sharp breath.
After years of relentless ocean battles, there had been a call for repairs and better marine fabrication. Melbourne clans had taken up the challenge with gusto, constructing ship sheds along the lining of the bay and braving the icy spray even in the depths of winter. However, despite their best efforts, the Melbourne vikings had been fighting a losing battle. Until now. Faster launch times wouldn’t just mean smoother trips for sailors; they could completely change the tide of the war.