The Green river was three leagues wide as it emptied into the sea. It was too deep to build a bridge across. Boats of all sizes and shapes moved from the north side to the south. On the north was Algany and on the south was the city of Trillham. Both were large cities in the kingdom of Shi.
My father had been a river mage and my mother a water witch. That made the water magic strong in me. I had two friends that were a little older, George and Charles both had magic but not as strong a gift as mine. Ships sank in the river all the time and that was where we got the idea and everything we needed.
The ferry was thirty paces wide and almost seventy five long. The main deck was for horses or carriages with a narrow mage engine house in the center. Above the engine were three long crystal cylinders that held the magic to run the engine. On each side of the ferry were four small paddle wheels that moved the boat.
The second deck had benches and was enclosed with lots of windows. It also had two bridge rooms. One was forward on the starboard side and the other aft on the port side. That was so they were always in the same place no matter which way we were crossing the river. The third level had benches but only had rails that ran completely around it.
Everything on the ferry we had brought up from ships that had sank in the river. The few large ships that went back and forth only did it irregularly. They were limited in what they could carry and how long it took. The ferry had side rails on the main deck and wide gang planks on the front and rear that we could lower to the docks we had built.
The first day we made ten crossing and at the end of the day we had a single gold coin or royal as it was called. By the end of the week we were making five or six a day. We charged two pennies for a person, five for a horse and four merchants for a carriage or wagon. At first we only got people but by the end of the week we had a few riders with horses.
We had already charged the crystal cylinders and had a small crowd waiting to board from the north side. It was early morning and Charles was up in the south bridge as we called it. George was finishing our morning check of the boat as I lowered the wide gang plank. I waited as people started coming aboard and accepted the coppers.
I sent them up to the second deck and finally four riders arrived. I frowned when I saw them pulling a girl behind one of the horses. She wore a mage collar and a lead went from it to the saddle of a horse. The men swung down and led the horses aboard. I gestured, "two pennies for each person and five for each horse."
One of the men growled as he pulled an over and under pistol, "you will take us across and give us all your money."
I glanced around and held out the wooden box with all the pennies. They laughed as he snatched it and led the horses towards the front of the ferry. I looked after them and moved to the side to pull two belaying pins. I walked after them and the last turned just as I reached them. I struck out and into his head and he dropped.
I continued walking and swung the other pin into the back of the head of another man. I pulled the girl out of the way and lashed out and into the forehead of the third man. The last turned and started to reach for his weapon but he still held the money box. I smashed one of the belaying pins along side of his head and then brought the other down on the top.
He dropped to the deck and I looked at the others. They were not moving and I relaxed and bent to strip them. I tied their hands behind their backs and pulled them to the back. I lifted and hung them on the side and went to get a carriage whip. More people had arrived to board the ferry and watched as I slapped the men awake.
I moved back and used the whip to give each of them twenty lashes. I cut them down one at a time and kicked them until they ran off the ferry. I went to get our money box and their things and looked at the frightened girl. I growled as I cut the lead and gave her everything and gestured, "come with me."
She followed and stood beside me as I brought the waiting people aboard. After the last one I raised the gangplank and whistled to let Charles know. Next I went to cast off and whistled again and slowly the ferry pulled away from our dock. I turned the girl and looked at the mage collar before I searched the clothes from the men.
I found the key and opened the collar and tossed it over the side. I caught her hand and pulled her after me and up a set of stair. On the next deck I walked to the south bridge and leaned in the open door, "we had robbers."
Charles glanced at me, "had?"
I grinned, "I used a belaying pin on them and whipped them off the ferry."
I turned to the girl and took everything I had given her, "what is your name?"
She looked down, "Amanda."
I nodded, "I am Tyler and this is Charles behind the wheel. George is walking the decks and that is all of us."
I moved and gestured her into the bridge, "sit in the seat behind him and rest."
I knelt and began going through the cloths and the four purses. I added it together and dumped it into the money box, "they had ten royals."
Next I pulled out and checked the eight over and under pistols. I used two belts to put holsters under each arm and then attached one on each hip. I set the other four inside on the back shelf and looked at the boots. I grinned as I set them on the floor and folded the pants and shirts and gave them to the girl.
I glanced back as George appeared and smiled, "the girl is Amanda. Four robbers had her on a leash."
He snorted, "I saw you whip them."
I nodded as I looked ahead, "she has magic so I guess she is one of us."
I turned, "my turn to walk the decks?"
It took us over an hour to cross to the south and dock. After everyone left I took the robbers horses and hurried into the city. I sold the horses cheap and bought butter, a chicken, roots, peppers and a small basket of eggs. When I got back to the dock there were a lot of soldiers I had to push through.
Charles was arguing with an officer as I walked up and pushed the basket and sack at him and looked at the officer, "you want to use our ferry?"
He growled, "we are commandeering it..."
I snorted, "of course you have your own mages to move it across the river."
He blinked, "no."
I nodded, "then you plan to sit on it here at the dock."
He stiffened, "listen here, we are taking this ship across the river and you..."
I stepped towards him, "I am the captain. If you wish to use our ferry to cross you pay like everyone else or something very bad will happen to you. Now if you wish the ferry to yourselves it will cost ten royals. We will accept a note of payment or coins."
He shifted and finally nodded, "I will write a promissary note."
I stepped back, "send your men to the second and third decks and I will put in the hitch posts for the horses."
He turned and started barking orders and I began moving posts with rings from the brackets along the sides to holes spaced across the deck. Charles appeared to help and glanced at the soldiers loading, "well?"
I glanced back and grinned, "we get a promissary note for ten royals which I can redeem once we return."
He grinned and we kept working as the soldiers began loading horses. Finally I went to raise the gangplank and Charles whistled and after I had untied us I whistled. We climbed up and went to the north bridge. I smiled when I saw Amanda cooking on the three tiny burners behind George and beside a window.
She had cut up the chicken and diced the roots and peppers and was cooking both in butter. George and I walked the decks and came back to eat halfway across the river. I found the officer before we reached the other side and he gave me the promissary note. After we docked and lowered the gangplank the soldiers hurried off and I saw a large crowd waiting to board.
This was more than normal and they filled all three decks. It was like that all day, soldiers crossing to the north and people wanting to go south. After the last trip George and Charles went to get dinner and I ran to redeem the promissary notes. When I returned there were more soldiers but we moved the ferry away from the dock and anchored.
We ate and cleaned up and I counted out the money and looked at the others before I split it into four piles. The guys smiled and did not say anything. George stood and stretched, "night."
He went to one end and Charles stood and headed towards the other. I looked at the girl before I went around to the cabinets behind the south bridge. I pulled out blankets and then pushed several benches together against the side. From a storage box on the wall I pulled out and unrolled a thin mattress on top of the benches.
I spread out the blankets and hesitated before pulling the girl close. I stripped her and lift the blanket, "in and over."
I stripped and when I laid down it took a minute to relax, "night."
A moment later the girl moved over against me, "you do not want me?"
I snorted, "girl I would fuck you all night."
She giggled, "those men could only do it once apiece."
I looked at her in the darkness, "but you wanted more?"
She shifted and moved onto me, "yes."
I turned and rolled over her and gave her a kiss before I lifted. I slowly pushed into her, "you know how to prevent getting with child?"
.... There is more of this story ...