The Let's Play Archive

Sunless Sea

by Black Wombat

Part 9: Northern exploration

Journal entry eight – Northern exploration

The journal of Captain Petra Blackwood

December 30th, 1887 -

We set off today with much grumbling from the crew. They wanted to stay and celebrate the new year ashore; if I permitted though, however, I might have to wait for a week for them to be sober enough to depart, and that would be very undesirable.

I stopped by Hunter's Keep on our way out. I had yet to grace Phobe's table with my presence, and so today took lunch with her. She is a more gifted storyteller than her sisters, I feel. I lost myself in what she had to say. I hope to take lunch with her again sometime.

Something has changed, it seems. But Hunter's Keep never changes. Nothing good can come of this.

December 31st, 1887 –

We arrived in Venderbight this afternoon. The crew was not very appreciative of my offer to let them celebrate the New Year's here, which is rather too bad, since I might have enjoyed it. I put ashore to spend a little time among the colonists, and track down that restaurant I'd heard about on the I&M Funging station.

It was not quite what I was expecting. The chef came out and greeted me, and we sat and enjoyed a very... Unorthodox tea. He explained that while he enjoyed his work, and he loved his restaurant, he felt the Tomb-Colonies were culinarily stagnant – as they are in so many other ways – and sought a way to cook as he traveled the Neath. I offered him a position on my crew, of course – He was obviously skilled – but when he started explaining the equipment he would need to do his job, I told him I did not have the funds to provide, and he said he would wait.

He made sure to let me know that tomb-colonists were very good at being patient.

We don't have a cook, but this guy costs 300 echos to recruit. We're going to need that money more for other things. Better to wait.

After that, I spent some time in Venderbight, just enjoying the evening. There were New Year's celebrations going on, no matter what my crew said, and I enjoyed one quite greatly.

With that behind us, we put back out to zee, into the unknown north.

January 1st, 1888 -Morning

The trip north was not simple. After departing Venderbight, we passed Pickett's Bluff. Not long after we'd past that point, during one of my rounds, I noticed several of the crewmen sleeping fitfully. I chose to make no further mention of it; although I would love to know of what they dreamed, I am the captain, and must present certain appearances.

In my experience, this event is kind of a trap. Passing the Pages challenge causes you to GAIN terror – Sometimes up to 10! You also gain some fragments, but whatever, it's not nearly worth it.

Near the end of the third watch, Jones put out a warning cry. He'd spotted a Lifeburg. Just as the snow in the Neath isn't really snow, when you compress enough not-snow together it becomes not-ice. And get enough of this not-ice, and set it afloat, and you get a lifeburg. Just as capable of sinking ships as their surface counterparts, but with a much worse attitude.

I immediately ordered my zailors to cut the lights and run as silently as we could. We would try to sneak past it.

Fortunately, it did not see us. We passed under Censor's Arch and into Wither without difficulty.

Janurary 1st, 1888 - Afternoon

Wither is infuriating.

Living this far north, they must know so many interesting things! But no-one, no-one in this town will answer a simple question! It is always more questions, and more, and more, like makeup on a vain old woman who's only just realized she's old.

I can't even purchase the Mutersalt I need! Certainly, they sell it, but not for echos, no. They want stories. Many stories. More than I know. We'll just have to carry on and get the Devil bone dice.

Frustrated with that, I spent a little time walking the salt-fields. It is cold up here, yes. Very cold indeed. But I enjoyed the time alone. It was an enlightening experience, in a way.

I think that is all I will be able to take from this place. It's time to move on.

I realize I didn't get a shot of the main city card. The only thing we didn't do was shore leave. We need our echos, thank you!

Janurary 1st, 1888 – Evening

It turns on 'Moving on' didn't mean going very far. Scarcely more than the distance of Censor's Arch, we came across Codex. A place for those who answer too many questions, I've heard. But they were no more useful than those from Wither; Other than a few old men on the docks selling supplies, nobody on this island will speak to me. Oh, they'll attempt to communicate through some sort of interpretive dance, but that's not an optimal method of conveying information.

But at least they're trying. From here, we go east.

January 1st, 1888 – Night

Things do not go easy in the North. Shortly after leaving Codex, we spotted a pirate ship. They were riding in a cruiser of Infernal design. It was not a fight I wanted to have. I ordered my men to kill the lights.

But it was too late. They spotted us. We were in a bad position to be starting this fight; with few other choices, I ordered the engine crew to run dangerously hot and get us out as fast as we could go.

FULL POWER lets you go fast. Like, REALLY fast. You consume a large chunk of fuel to initiate it, and then you book it faster than basically anything can chase you. Downside – Your engine temp spikes, and doesn't really lower unless you stop. The longer you run at higher temperatures, the higher the odds of having a small explosion.

They were apparently unwilling to run a similar risk, and let us go. As soon as we'd gotten a good distance away, I paused and let our engine cool down; we then continued around the island and docked at Mt. Palmerson.

January 2nd, 1888 -

Mt. Palmerson is an unpleasant place; Hot and sulfurous, the whole place reeks of brimstone. I'm certain the devils who live here feel just at home. There's a collection of humans living here as well, clustered mostly around a dock near the zee.

I spent some time speaking to those who live near the port, collecting information about what happens here, and then journeyed into the hinterlands to poke around a short time. While exploring a village that was half-buried under ash, I discovered a colony of blemmigans. I managed to get close without being seen, and observed them for a little while. Such curious creatures.

I had time to do all this because my crew was busy loading our ship with a stock of coal and devil bone dice.

With our supplies still high, I've chosen to not yet return to London. We're quite a ways out, and exploring a bit farther would do us well. We continue East.

January 3rd, 1888 -

We've arrived at Frostfound.

An icy castle of almost unimaginable size, Frostfound has to be seen to be believed. It's beautiful and overwhelming all at once. There's a small port with a surprisingly large permanent population here, of very unusual people.

Unusual, but not unwelcoming. There's an attitude of jovial competition, somehow, despite the freezing temperatures, and I must say I enjoyed my time taking tea with them – even if the Withern people are still frustrating, even this far from home. Still, a small welcome can go a long way.

While at dinner, I met a man who said he was a ship mechanic. I got to talking, and he eventually offered to come aboard my ship for a remarkably small fee. He said having more work to do would do him good. We spoke at length, long after the Withern and Irene people had fallen into questions and riddles, and he told me he had some sort of problem sleeping. He said if I was so inclined, I could assist him. Normally, I would not be interested, but any cure that involves such things as he needs is worth observing!

I spoke with this man quickly, while I've kind of ignored the others, for very good reason. You need to do his side-quest, at least once, or something bad can happen. Plus, it's a fair profit!

With a new officer aboard and my new friends waving goodbye, I decided to head north, and see the rest of Frostfound up close to admire it's beauty.

Frostfound, unlike many places, is actually broken up into something like six 'locations'. You get fragments for discovering each of them. Making a circuit around Frostfound earns you more than one full secret.

Things did not go well. As we passed under the castle's massive bridge, we started to encounter heavy blusters of snow from the north. And even worse, a Lifeburg was spotted. I ordered our light turned off, and for us to hug Frostfound as we attempted to turn around.

Unfortunately, even with our light off, the Lifeburg noticed us. And even worse, the snowstorm started hampering our engine, slowing our possible escape.

You'll notice, on our speed gauge, the '2' is blacked out. While in heavy snow, you're limited to half speed.

Fortunately, while Lifeburgs are enormous and dangerous, they are not particularly fast. Even wit the snow against us, we soon outpaced it, and continued east.

January 5th, 1888 - Morning

We continued east, after skirting the snowstorm. In the early morning, our lookout reported two landmasses coming into view at the same time, one to our north, one to our east.

Once I took to the deck and looked at what had been seen, however, it was clear – the mass to the north was moving.

We'd found Mt. Nomad.

Once more, I ordered the ship into silent running, and hoped the other island we'd seen had a safe harbor. I swear, the entire crew barely dared to breath as we passed.

Fortunately, the massive mountain did not care about our tiny ship. We continued and docked unchallenged.

Mt. Nomad will one-shot us. While it has the same AI as other Lifeburgs, and could be defeated without damage with similar tactics, you have no leeway for error unless you have an upgraded ship. Also, it has 1,000 HP. We don't want to mess with that.

January 5th, 1888 – Noon

A strange church, in the middle of nowhere. It also has a surprising number of visitors, given its remote location. But maybe there is a good reason; the Smiling Priest is a warm and inviting character, unlike most clergymen I know in London. He welcomed me and my crew in for a feast. Many among my crew seemed skeptical, but the smells coming from the kitchen convinced me, at least. I offered them to return to another meal of dried fish and fungus-cakes, and to my surprise, quite a few did. It's a tragedy for them – The meal was rich and delicious. I've never had anything like it before. I am satisfied in a way I have never known.

I will have to return here again someday. Soon.