Part 10: A long way homeJournal entry nine A long way home
The journal of Captain Petra Blackwood
January 5th, 1888 -
We departed the Chapel of Lights and headed north. According to Kalan and her bats, there was a large landmass up there other than Mt. Nomad and there was only one thing that it could be. I wanted to see it dearly. We had to travel without a light on, as a precaution against Mt. Nomad, but it was a small price to pay.
It is cold beyond reason, at the Avid Horizon. The farthest north one can go in the Neath. I've had to relocate to the engine room to keep my ink warm enough to write with while I make this entry. But there is a beauty here; the false-stars shine gorgeously, and sometimes twist high on the roof. The door itself is beyond ancient and must hold secrets worth dying for.
The crew do not like it here, for various reasons. That it's as cold as Hell is hot is enough of one, I suppose. Then there's the wind constant, omnipresent. Very different from the rest of the Neath. I've heard this is what it is like, on the surface Breezy, all the time. I can scarcely imagine it.
When I announced I was going to make landfall, everyone was dreading being chosen to accompany me. Fortunately for them, I chose to go alone There is no danger here, in this place. No need to inconvenience them more than they already were.
I even took a small souvenir with me. Once I returned to the ship, the crew was more than happy to depart. We left to the south-east.
January 7th, 1888
A still image does not quite do this place justice. It's important to note that the yellow dots all over those frogs all blink. They're eyes. All of those dots are eyes.
With our progress east blocked by a large snowstorm, I chose to divert our exploration south And it has started to yield bounties, of a type. Today, we entered the sea of lilies. There are supposedly great secrets here, guarded by the amphibian knot-oracles. That may be true, but it is true that there is a Khanate prison here. Which is also guarded by knot-oracles.
It is called Wisdom, a name that must be some sort of Khanate joke, as those who wind up in prisons are not known for wisdom. (I feel obliged to mention here that I am not saying all criminals are unwise Merely the ones who wind up in prisons.) Unlike most other Khanate holdings, they had no problems with me docking. I used the chance to record a little information about the goings-on at port, but they had little else to offer.
The ways to spring someone are varied and difficult; Just getting 3,000 echos is basically the more sure way.
We continued south, from here. We are still searching for the Khanate and Polythreme, to try to secure what the Engineer needs for his little task.
January 8th, 1888
Things have gotten... Strange since we left the Sea of Lillies. The LB we brought aboard from Pigmote has gotten it into his head to tell us how great rats are. Galaxian has been saying there's something 'ratsey' about, whatever that means, and it's making the vermin in the hold extra-brave. I have to admit, our little LB has been quite useful, but this area is starting to be more trouble than its worth. However, as we approached the island of Nuncio, I started to get a clue about what was happening.
Including one full-sized journal page because it's the best way to see that statue, leering at us from over the journal.
Nuncio is somewhat famous in London. Everyone's heard of someone's brother's friend's postman who's run away to the island, home to... To what, exactly? I'm not sure, even now.
I went ashore and spent a little time in the postal worker's tavern. I spoke to them of the particularities of their jobs and of the island, but even so, I don't feel like I've really come away understanding what's happening any better.
They invited me to spend a shift working on the island. Perhaps that would help answer some of my questions, but right now, I'm not quite that curious. I had the crew prepare the ship for departure.
January 10th, 1888 - Morning
We've entered the domain of the Khanate. I never really wanted to come here they're uncouth barbarians, these folks And even worse, naturally suspicious of Londoners. I've heard they assume we're spies until proven otherwise, and don't care much to test that theory.
Fortunately, we aren't going into the Khanate proper. A little to the south sets this mass of ships and dissolution Khan's Shadow. Formed of those who didn't fit in when the Khanate went 'Civilized', they're people who barbarians think are too barbaric. I have little desire to fraternize here, but they have something I need.
I set a few of my men to collecting the port report while I visited the market. They sell some remarkable things, here. Beautiful things and strange things. However, those are not what I'm here for; I'm here to purchase a mirrorcatch box, a device normally used to hold sunlight. I suspect that is not going to be this box's fate, but I don't doubt it'll eventually get filled with something.
I also took the chance on buying more fuel. We'd been starting to get low, and if we want a chance to find Polythreme, we'll need a full hold. I have spent my last echo on these supplies if things go poorly, things will go very poorly.
I met Jones, Kraken and Meis back on the port. They had some exceptional stories to report. The zailors here know the goings-on in the Khanate fairly well, and are happy to share the information. I am sure the admiralty will be happy with this.
With these supplies, I'm setting a course south. We'll find the living island yet.
January 10th, 1888 Night
Everything is going ideally. I was awoken by Kalan, who was on watch, to report that there was something of a groaning noise coming from... Somewhere. She couldn't find it. When I came to the deck, I realized it was coming from the sea itself. We've entered the tides of appetite, and that means we're in the sea of voices. Soon, we'll have the clay men we need.
Still images don't really do the Tides justice. Those mouths on the seafloor open and close very slowly Enough that one might mistake it for some kind of water effect at first, but on closer observation realize they are absolutely moving.
Perhaps the moaning entered the dreams of my crew, for several were complaining of restless sleep the night before. I simply gave them orders to put into port.
January 11th, 1888 -
Polythreme is an unnerving place. From the moment of our arrival, watching the mooring ropes squirm like sedated snakes, one is keenly aware of one's surroundings there. My crew, perhaps not unwisely, chose not to leave the ship as I went inland.
I spoke to numerous clay men near the docks. They were all very helpful, and directed me to the Londoner's Ward, where lines of motionless clay men wait to be transported Standing transfixed and staring at nothing. When I said I was to bring some of them to London, a half-dozen of them came with me back to the ship. I'm certain London won't miss one no matter who they say they are for.
I also visited a building that made a noise like a man driving railroad spikes. Known as the Temple of Labors, I was not allowed far in, but the clay man in front told me he would purchase the materials they need. Materials for what, he was not clear, but materials. He also offered to sell me the services of clay-men coal-stokers; Expensive, but probably a valuable investment, someday.
On the way back to the Correspondence, I encountered a lovely clothes-colony that had in it a scarf not unlike something my mother used to wear. I was so smitten for it I traded the thing my gloves and pendant for it. It squirms somewhat, but that is comforting, in its own way. I am quite happy, and think I might make quite a splash next time I visit Veilgarden!
Several entries here omitted Containing unnoteworthy visits to Gaider's Morn and Shepard's Wash, the sinking of two pirate ships and one Jillyfleur
Janurary 14th, 1888 -
We're nearly home again. I think the crew are glad for it. We've been away for more than two weeks, and that's a long time to be in the dark. I'm mostly eager, however, to get to Hunter's Keep, and see what must be done with this clay-man. First, though, we will stop in on Mutton Island, to collect information about the goings-on.
To my surprise, as we disembarked, a small group of zailors went down towards the shore with some very strange things in-hand. When asked about their plans, Grandalt explained they were going to put on some kind of musical performance.
I certainly could not be seen to skip such a thing. I went down by the beach with the rest of the crew, and we sat and listened to some joyous sounds and maybe also a little music.
By the time it was finished, evening had set in, and the local fishermen had returned to their homes. With no one to ask about the nature of events at port, I simply returned to my ship I cannot say, however, it was a bad evening.
Getting a port report here costs 1 echo. I don't even have that. Oh well!
On our way north, we stopped to clear out one of those pests that swarm the waters near London. I had it brought on-board for a scientific dissection.
One fragment is almost kind of insulting, given that it takes (500-Pages) fragments to make a Secret. I mean, you can one-shot these things with a decent gun, sure, but it's still hardly worth your time.
January 15th Late afternoon
We arrived at Hunter's Keep just in time for lunch. Today, I brought the Tireless Mechanic in with me. We took lunch with Lucy I thought her particular manner of storytelling might do him good, but he seemed distracted for the whole meal.
Almost as soon as the yellow-eyed maid had cleared the plates, the Mechanic leaped on the real reason for our visit.
The sisters were amenable to the idea, at a reasonable price. As we descended, it became clear that we were walking in halls far older than the house above. At the very bottom of it, we encountered a very unusual spring. The Mechanic seemed to know much about these things, and said this was one of the tributaries of Parabola, and that it would somehow let the clay-man permit him a night of sleep.
When we returned to the ship, I advised him that maybe he should use the distance between here and London to get some rest. He seemed eager. I posted a Jones and Galaxian, at his urging, in case something goes wrong and am going to sleep myself. I will have much to do in London.
January 16th, early morning
I was awoken by screaming. When I arrived at the Tireless Mechanic's cabin, there was what could only be described as a fracas going on.
The clay man was imbued with some terrible force, glowing a fierce green the likes of which I have only seen in the far corner of dark mirrors. Jones and Galaxian were both strong men, the strongest on board, but even together they are no match for a clay man. I arrived in time to see Galaxian struck against a wall as Jones finally managed to wrestle the box closed.
It was too late for Galaxian, however. The creature had driven him so hard into the bulkhead that there was not much of him left between his shoulders and his pelvis. Everything between those had been crushed like jelly by the clay man's fist.
The crew did not take this well. We are so close to London. But I do not think their ire is directed at me It is directed at the mechanic. I will be staying aboard until he awakens, for he slept peacefully through this whole ordeal. I will have very sharp questions for him, about what happened.