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Catherine Smith for Percival Adlard Jr..
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This would have been very disturbing anyway but then Pet's eye popped out and started rolling along the bottom of the boat. Great. Maybe she would be so fortunate as to have a kraken surface nearby and pluck her off the ship with one of its tentacles and kindly drown her. Petra Sleptova in Land, Ho!
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Two by Two
October 5th, 1889 — Pumpkin Regatta — Black Lake

A no-magic allowed rowing competition was exactly the sort of event where Alfred could really shine, and he was eager to participate in this one — although he could have done without the whimsy of using an over-large gourd as his boat, if he were being honest. Rowing competitions with normal boats wouldn't exactly have drawn a large crowd of spectators, he supposed, so it was a necessary evil. Still, he couldn't help but think as he looked it over that their ride across the lake would be a bit... slimy.

He'd left the decorations to Pablo, and was admiring them now before the race began. Alfred had been raised Christian, of course (as had most of the country), so he knew the story of Noah's Arc. It was appropriately thematic, he felt — the two of them climbing into a boat designed to save a pair of animals from a disaster that killed literally everything else. Maybe he was looking at it a little too morbidly, though. Maybe Pablo had just thought it was a nice story, or he'd just fancied carving some animals into a pumpkin. Perhaps it was best that Alfred not read too much into it.

"It looks good," he commented to his friend. It looked good, anyway, while bobbing innocuously in the shallow water near the shore. He imagined it would look quite silly when they actually got it underway — the pumpkin wasn't exactly designed to cut through the water well, which meant they'd spent at least some of their time twirling in circles until they managed to get it moving the right direction. Everyone else was bound to have the same problem, though, and at least Alfred thought he knew what to do about it to get them started in something sort-of resembling a straight line.

"Ready to get in?"
Pablo had thought that Noah's ark matched this whole thing rather perfectly. Two people to a gourd, going across the lake - this was going to be a treat and he had enjoyed working on the pumpkins decoration, doing his best to also design it so that it would hold up well in the water.

"Quite ready, let's do this," Pablo said with a grin when Alfred asked if he was ready to go. This had to be among one of their zaniest adventures while still being in their home country.
Encouraged by his friend's enthusiasm, Alfred climbed in, and in a moment they were underway. As expected, they were floating rather aimlessly when he first pushed off from the shore, but so was everyone else.

"Row on the opposite side as me, unless we need to turn," he told Pablo, quietly enough that he hoped none of the other boats would overhear. There weren't very many times in life when he was able to use the skills he'd acquired in the Navy in a very practical way (if one could call this practical), and he didn't want to give up his advantage so easily. "And, uh — let's try to avoid that one with the fires," he said, gesturing vaguely towards a pumpkin that was decorated with candles. He didn't really fancy having to deal with their 'boat' catching during the race. He could swim perfectly well if it came down to having to abandon ship, but it would certainly put a damper on things.
Pablo nodded as Alfred issued his instructions. He eyed the pumpkin with the candles dubiously as it was pointed out. "I am glad that we weren't so.. ambitious," he said. Their decoration was nice enough if he had to say so himself but did not hinder the pumpkins ability to move. Or their safety.

"I think we were plenty ambitious," Alfred agreed. He was hardly an artistic type, which was why he'd had to find an outside source to illustrate his book — before the publisher had got his hands on it and turned it into trash, of course (though the pictures were still nice). Who cared if a boat looked nice, if it wasn't a functional boat? But perhaps that was just the sailor in him, wanting function over form. Plenty of pumpkins here seemed to be heavy on the decoration and both they and the people in them seemed rather low in seafaring ability.

"Your carving look great," he said as they paddled. "And they hold up against the water, which... to be honest, I wasn't sure about. I didn't think we would sink, or anything," he added hastily, "But I did think I'd have soggy boots by the end."
Pablo nodded in agreement. "I figured the water would pour in if I carved a little too deep at the bottom so I didn't go in too deep a carve there," he said. After all, he would rather them have a modicum of comfort inside their pumpkin vessel. He took a look around and was not completely surprised when it seemed that they were faring worlds better than their co-competitors.
Pablo had put a refreshing amount of forethought into the practical elements of the design, it seemed. Alfred had known leaving things up to him was the best decision in that regard. After weighing in on the choice of pumpkin (not that any pumpkin was particularly hydrodynamic, but he'd done his best to find one that looked like it wouldn't, at least, be actively fighting against them while they rowed), Alfred had been entirely hands-off up until tonight, and it seemed to have paid off.

They were doing tolerably well. It was still too early to have much of a substantial lead on anyone, but given that some of the other boats were still spinning circles... well, he liked their odds.

"I reckon we could tow one of these less fortunate teams and still do alright," he joked to Pablo.

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