The Let's Play Archive

Sunless Sea

by Black Wombat

Part 16: Masks

Journal entry 15 – Masks

From The journal of Captain Petra Blackwood

February 17th, 1888 -

It has been several long and relatively uneventful days since Nuncio. We stopped at Khan's Shadow and Polythreme to pick up supplies and another shipment of Clay Men, and I have spent those days in contemplation.

The powerful feelings that came with viewing the obelisk are fading. I can still feel it, but it is a shadow of its former self. A distant echo of a primordial scream. Only looking at my last entry can I still conjure up all the intensity of what I felt before, and remind myself it wasn't a dream. Perhaps even the feelings that the Correspondence evokes are not for human souls, much like the words are not made for our tongues.

Kalan informed me today that her bats discovered a landmass south-east of Polythreme, and today we have the fuel and luxury to examine it.

Godfall, home of an order of very particular monks. No real counterpoint to the women of the Abbey, the men here are brutes.

More interesting than the monastery, or the bearded buffoons who live in it, is the stalactite itself. It's riddled with ancient passages, and the monks say they are filled with ancient wonders and terrors, and the monks themselves do not descend.

I will need many candles if I am to make a run of it. Another day, though, I shall explore this place, and that wonders I will no doubt find.

From here, we will travel due west to Deamaux Island, to speak to the factor.

February 18th, very early morning - 1888

We arrived at the funging station, and while my crew enjoyed a short time without the waves below them, me and the Cannoneer went to speak to the Factor.

The man was very reluctant to talk, which can only mean the information is worth having. I had to pay a very substantial bribe in order for him to be willing to tell me that the prototype is on the sun-drenched island of Aestival. If only we'd searched better last time we were there!

Well, if we had, we would have likely all succumbed to the sun.

We will return there next time our voyages take us far from London, and see if we can't dig up this weapon the Cannoneer is so excited about. This is starting to become an expensive project – and will be even more expensive if I lose half my crew to sun exposure. I hope, in the end, it is worth it.

February 18th. Afternoon – 1888

We arrived at the island of Visage.

The last known location of my father, and an unusual and interesting place in its own right. I was permitted ashore today, and why I wasn't before was never made entirely clear.

Before I could follow the lead about my father, however, I had to check in through customs, and they made it clear that wearing a mask was not optional.

I chose the mask of a Locust, because acquiring wealth comes naturally to me. And I did not fancy myself uncouth enough to be a frog, nor was I interested in a mask described to me as 'The wearer always dies'. I have no desire to see if death has as much of an aversion to Visage as he has to London.

As soon as I donned the mask, I went to search for this Assigner of Corpses.

Few were willing to speak to me of the matter. Perhaps they feared I was some sort of ressurectionist, here to pilfer their dead. In any case, I found a man delivering a corpse to the quayside. He implied that the Fathomking would know more of my father.

While that completed the business I came to Visage on, I decided to stay longer, to see the nature of this island.

The Library and the Court are the only two places you can visit, right now.

I spent time wandering the island, taking in a few of its sights and attempting to behave in as Locustlike a manner as possible. While I was unable to acquire a great deal of wealth, or knowledge, the Moon-Moth masked woman who was guiding me seemed quite pleased with my performance, so much so that she offered me... A promotion. Of sorts.

The fact that its very strongly implied you can't tell what gender people are, and that you try to steal something 'under your carapace' as a locust, suggests to me that the 'masks' people wear on Visage are rather more than your average eye-covering domino. I wish there was an illustration of a mask from Visage somewhere, but I don't think there is.

She offered me a chance to take her mask and walk, at least temporarily, among those who live on Visage as a resident. I accepted, of course. I figured there was much to be learned, and I was not wrong.

I took the chance to visit a few places that has been off-limits to me, as a visitor.

There are many options in both of these locations yet undone. Most of them are wrong for a Moon-Moth to do, so doing them gives you nothing but a point of Expertise in Parts.

The methods and customs of Visage are very particular. They do not do things for the sake of efficiency or comfort. It seems as though the whole place is built around some strange symbology I cannot say I understand, even after my visit. The Apis itself is particularly unusual – It seemed to be a flesh-and-blood bull, bleeding eternally. I've seen stranger, at Zee, but not by much. The whole place has a faint whiff of the Egyptologists, but I can't quite place my finger on it.

As I was preparing to find a way to depart, I found that the Moon Moth was, perhaps, attempting to leave today for a very spesific reason. There was some sort of festival, and the Moon Moth was to be a participant. While I could have avoided it, I am sure, I had no desire to do so. If I was to find out any more about this place, it would be by attenting the Festival of Flourishing.

In the end, I learned did not learn much about Flourishing-of-Years. The locals apperently consider their masks and their roles some kind of protection, perhaps against the gods of the Zee. Inside of Flourishing-of-Years, secrets were exchanged. Not dire ones, or particularly vile ones, merely secrets that felt better outside oneself. I shall not record them here, even in my most private of places, for they were given to me in strict confidence.

From here, we go west, into the unknown – a little exploring before returning to London.

February 18th, evening – 1888

Today we visited the Isle of Cats. I had no intention of staying long; just long enough to assist Maybe's Daughter, and find a new lead on this chest I have.

Neither intention ended particularly well. Maybe's mother is not present, and while I found the Cat's Claw, he wanted five-hundred echos to reveal the location where I could maybe find the woman who would maybe tell me the secret of opening the chest. I do not have that sort of liquid funds at the moment, but will return when I do.

For now, I will simply depart – I have enough going on without getting caught up in the machinations of cats.

February 19th, 1888

We entered the Promised Sea last night.

Home of the Drownies, the Promised Sea is an eerie place. The enormous glowing coral structures hum gently with the songs of drowned men and women. The place is unusual, and bring surrounded by the dead brings with it strange feelings.

Before long, we arrived at the Fathomking's Hold. It's an enormous place, towering from the zee – but unlike many places, which seem to rise in defiance of the waves, the Hold seems to be granted release from them. It looks as much a part of the Neath as anywhere.

The Fathomking's Hold, for some reason, calls up an unusual background while you're at it – Blocking your view of the Zee. It sometimes glitches out and won't go away and forces you to reboot the game.

The crew was happy to not disembark, here – The decks of the Unfinished are safer than the hold, they say. Or perhaps they are simply easily intimidated by the drowned. Either way, I was not going to let fear prevent me from speaking to the king of my father.

The Fathomking is perhaps the most bizarre entity I have encountered yet at zee. His upper body, the part one can clearly see inside of the bowl of brackish water that is his throne, is clearly human-like, but trails down below ornate robes to become something far less mundane. It is impossible to even appraise how large he may truly be – He reminds me uncomfortably of the serpent in Wither. His human face may be just a ploy.

The Fathomking listened to my request, and said there would be a price for what I wished to know. It was an awfully long list. But it is not a list I am not deterred by such things – I did not put to Zee because I thought this would be easy. I have a few ideas of how I could fulfill some of the requests, and I had time to think of them as I viewed the Fathomking receive his other visitors.

From here, we head north, towards London. I have much business to attend too.

February 20th, 1888

We arrived at the salt lions again today. I had not initially planned to make this trip. Something drew me here, a breath on the wind that had me ascend one more to the peaks of the Sphinxes. It was some tiny little fragment of the glories that I saw below Nuncio. Once more I have cast myself into the zee, and returned with secrets.

I desire to bring with us another load of Sphinxstone, but the hold is slightly too full. Fortunately, since we are so close, we don't need all the supplies we still have – And the Stone will more than pay for replacements.

With this load of stone, we head north – For a brief stop on Mutton Island, and then the safe harbor of home.

February 21st, morning - 1888

Quaker's Haven was no more busy than it ever is – Although we had to avoid a rather large crab to make it in to port, it's nothing my crew has not gotten used to by now (I think. I'm used to it, at the very least.)

While there, we waited for the crab to depart a little, and I took some time to explore the island. On a northern hillside, I heard, from the north, a terrifying noise carried upon the wind.

Hopefully it is something far, far away. I want no more surprises on our final trip home.

February 21st, afternoon – 1888

The drownies followed us.

They surrounded our ship and sung their lilting songs. I encouraged my zailors to fill their ears with cloth or wax and set themselves to work. But it was not enough.

'Doc' Snark threw himself overboard. Helios, who had been nearby, said he acted like Snark had seen someone he knew and quickly excused himself – they were good friends, he will need time to grieve. Snark will be the Fathomking's, now. If he was searching for someone, perhaps he has found them. I cannot say the drownies seem to be unhappy with their lot – but I also cannot say they seem particularly human.

It seems our returns home must always be muted with sorrow. We are scant few minutes from port now. I have business to attend to.