Journey Into the Deep (Chapter One, page 3 of 6)

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The rumor was that a deal was struck for England to come in on the South's side, although widely criticized by historians as simply not true. But the fact remains that under great secrecy a large flotilla of ships was congregated together in one of the few port cities remaining to the south. Details of this armada were very sketchy, as in the fact that there were practically none.

The fighting was expected to get worse before it could get better with the help of England so the wealthiest plantation owners and financiers packed their wives and children along with all the wealth meant as a payment to England for joining the war, onto the ships that made up the armada gathered in the harbor. As an added bonus it was rumored that the ships were piled high with the cotton that had been stacking up on the docks for years.

One day the armada was at anchor and then in the midst of a foggy overcast storm system the armada had disappeared from port. It was commonly believed that the Union commanders of the Yankee navy blockading the harbor had been bribed to let the armada pass uncontested, but there was no proof to back that up. From there the armada had simply vanished.

All of the ships had been steam powered, but navigation had still been an issue, which is where the Orlanis Star had come into the legend. It was rumored that the South had made a technological leap forward in terms of maritime navigation.

They had created a device that plotted their course for them so they could steam away through the densest of fogs without the need for chart navigation or for looking at the stars by night for plotting their course. What lay in the bottom of the trunk did not look like such a device, but it had to be.

The rumor was that the armada was to rendezvous halfway to England with a British warship convoy, which would validate the authenticity of the payment in gold and silver, as well as the bales of cotton as meeting with the terms of the alliance agreed upon by both sides.

Nothing was ever heard of the armada again though. The mythical British convoy never met them and the armada never reached England. Some who believed in the legend proposed that the British plundered the wealth and sank the armada. Others suggested that the navigation device referred to as the Orlanis Star had led them astray off course and that they had been lost in a storm.

Twenty years later the wreckage of one of the ships in the armada was found stranded along the northern coast of Africa. There had been only one survivor, Captain Rogers.

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