The Let's Play Archive

Sunless Sea

by Black Wombat

Part 19: A risky thing

Journal entry 18 – A risky thing

From The Journal of Captain Petra Blackwood

March 22nd, 1888

We departed the Empire of Hands yesterday. The monkeys saw us off with a not-entirely-warm farewell, but at the very least gathered on the dock to screech at us as we left. As naval orders require, I had the ship searched for stow-aways once we got en-route, but the crew turned up nothing.

I think they were glad for our departure, until they realized where we were going.

We arrived in The Chelonate, where most of the crew opted to stay on the ship and wear damp clothes over their mouths rather than deal with the intense stench of the shell – but I had promised Maybe's Daughter I would help her search, and help I would.

I would not, in a dozen lifetimes, have thought a woman like her would have been here. But she was – She looked very similar to her Daughter, but her motions, her demeanor, were radically different. They retired to speak. I retired to my ship, in an attempt to contain the slowly-building nausea that spending that long in the Chelonate causes to outsiders.

When she returned, she spoke of messages and tattoos, and things she might learn by communing with the Bazaar. Even with my time at zee, it sounded a little like the ravings of a madwoman – but people often do, when you don't know what they are basing their decisions on. I will go with her when we return to London and attempt to find out what, if anything, she's talking about.

March 23rd, 1888

We arrived at Aestival today – but before I detail our short trip onto the island, I wish to speak of last night. I had a most remarkable dream.

I walked through the Mirror-Marches with a tiger, a tiger of unusual size and nobility. He spoke to me of the things that pass on the other side of mirrors, on our side of the world. He also implied that I try not to overly interfere with his daughter – That a woman must make her own choices with regards to these things. I will surely honor his request.

As for what happened today, I had no intention of losing another zailor to this sun-drenched island. I organized the supply-gathering mission myself, and kept the crew sharply on-task.

We filled our hold and departed for the north.

March 24th, 1888

We continued north, though Savior's Rocks – Passing the largest crab we had yet to encounter on our way to visit the Nativity. Fortunately, like most crabs, it was rather unobservant and did not seem to notice us as we steamed pass, lightless.

I decided to land, this time – We had a little time to spare, and I wanted to see how their festival progressions were coming – so, perhaps, I could purchase silk with Echos, sometime.

I spoke to the man who claimed to speak for the 'Gracious Neighbors', and who's title I had no reason to doubt – I have never met someone so flippant about their own lack of eyes. He has passed on a request that I deliver to them several tomb-colonists to be food at their feast. I have mentioned previously, I hate sorrow-spiders. But this might be a good chance to learn about... Whatever it is that happens to tomb-colonists as they're put under stress. But it would also be feeding beings that are – or were once – people to sorrow-spiders.

I will think on it.

March 25th, 1888

This entry lays undisturbed in the journal

I have been to Irem.

The fishmongers here have always sold the strangest of fish from then and always. They have provided the Poissonnier a medium in which to try to render his culinary masterwork.

But he will find his own in skill in preparing the unusual meats lacking.

He will not, now that we have visited the Chelonate.

After we prepared to depart, a merchant from shore visited me. He told me I will have need of an item, and that I will have paid for it and delivered it to me now. Another Smooth and Cooper Longbox is now inside my hull. I will not ask questions about this. I will understand this place, but maybe not today.

Entries about uninteresting visits to Nuncio and Wisdom omitted.

March 28th, 1888

We've arrived at Khan's Heart. We had a short stop at Khan's Shadow, earlier – Just long enough to visit the market and replenish supplies. I also sold the pair of Artifacts we had in exchange for a mirrorcatch box – We will need it, in order to collect sunlight for the Fathomking.

For now, though, we have a different objective.

The Magician needs to speak to someone here. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to know exactly where that person is, and we can't exactly just ask the White-and-Golds for directions. I paid for the information he needed, though it was expensive.

While he went and got the instruction he needed in order to capture his enemy, I spent a little time wandering Khan's Heart, basking in its unusual pleasures. The place is unnerving, certainly, and every step I take is watched, but it is not without its fleeting reminders of home, or even the surface – which they seem to miss more than Londoners do.

The Magician rejoined me aboard the Unfinished, and we prepared to depart to the south. We will be visiting Polythreme, to pick up information, and then heading towards London. I think the crew is starting to become agitated at the length of this trip, and our supplies should barely hold out that long.

March 29th, 1888

Once more, we visit Polythreme. I wanted to make this trip relatively short – Nobody wants to spent time on this island, I think. And the longer we stay, the more likely it is we'll have to throw things overboard as they start squirming around. I've already lost two writing sets this trip back in the Iron Republic, I don't want to lose a third.

The Clay Men seemed agitated for this visit. Murmurs of Unfinished Men and the trouble they cause. Perhaps they are a new phenomenon; or perhaps only in relevance to how long some of these clay men have been alive – I don't know how long one survives, without interference. I located our informant here without much difficulty, either – it seemed he was being held captive by a clothes-colony. Why, or by who, I cannot say, but he seems to think passing on information could help alleviate his debt. Which implies assistance from someone who can order clothes-colonies about. A fascinating idea – perhaps I'll be lucky enough to be the one sent to commute his sentence.

With the information in-hand, we depart for London – with a few pit stops first.

March 30th, 1888

The crew has been reacting poorly to the stresses of being at zee for so long.

Today, I received word that Night had thrown himself overboard – preferring to drown than continue our voyage. I find this personally insulting to my abilities as captain, but the crew is more unhappy about it in a general sense.

Fortunately, I have a small supply of recreational substances, left behind by the departed Dr. Snark. I have distributed them to the crew in hopes it will improve morale – and I left them to enjoy their haze for a little bit while I visited Station III.

I went onto the island, accompanied by the Cannoneer, to find his friend. Or the man he called a friend. Given how he reacted to our arrival, I think it would probably have been more accurate to call him an acquaintance, but I'm not going to judge so long as he can help us.

Unfortunately, it seems like he cannot help us today. He needs a small collection of devilbone dice to complete the casing. From what I've heard, that makes it sound like he needs to ensure that the weapon does not need to follow all the rules of reality quite so strictly as it otherwise might – I'm growing less confident that this weapon will ultimately be safe to mount on my ship. But, it will certainly be a sight to see, if nothing else... Maybe I can sell it to someone to attach to a battery somewhere.

The Smith himself is a taciturn man. He had little to say about the island, or living on it – He seemed eager to return to his work, so we let him. I had a little more work to do.

I recruited a few of the clay men to help carry the longbox up, this time. No point getting my crew to do it when they have porters for this kind of thing. However, I did not collected my normal payment.

A man on Irem told me that I would one day pay for a Longbox because I needed to trade it for Heartmetal. I made that trade today. It seems wholly unremarkable, this little chunk of metal. Kind of soft, quite waxy, and very cold. I'm storing it in a small lockbox in my quarters. Hopefully I need it a few weeks from now, and not a few years.

March 31st, 1888
We've made it to the Morn, but things had been going rather rough. The crew is starting to get the shakes. People are jumping at nothing. Kalan refuses to come out of the aviary. Slaan and Drakli have started working together to come up with very disconcerting options for meals, should our supplies run out – and they are low. I cannot deny that. I needed a way to bolster spirits, and replenish are dwindling stocks.

Fortunately, I found one.

A Frigate, sailing between the stone pillars. I ordered my crew to battle positions. They seemed unsure about the situation – But we are better armed, better armored, and a true combat vessel, unlike the pirate's retrofitted merchant ship.

The fight was painfully short. They tried to flee, we did not let them – They never so much as fired on us. The Code of the Zee says it is every zailor's duty to help keep the waters clear of pirates – Living out that code brings courage to the crew's hearts.

And the contents of the ship's hold will see us easily to London. All is well.

April 1st, 1888

As you can see in this screenshot, we would have made it back to London with 1 fuel and 0 supplies if we hadn't hit that frigate. And people say Petra takes dangerous trips.

We've arrived in London. The relief among the crew is almost palpable. We docked, and had all the normal affairs to go through.

Before I could even disembark, however, Maybe's Daughter departed for Penstock's. I went with her, of course.

Penstock was an unusual man, a sickly man seated at the very foot of the real power in London. They spoke of the Bazaar like it was a living thing, a living thing that has started to take ill. Penstock attempted to discourage Maybe's daughter from continuing her plan – that what she was suggesting was unwise when her mother did it, and would not be even more foolish.

But after all we'd gone through, I wasn't going to let her back down so easily. She was a very capable woman, and would be able to handle whatever was below, and I told her so. And thus she departed.

It did not take as long as I thought it would. Me and Penstock only had time for two rounds of cribbage before she returned (I should note, Penstock is very good at cribbage – he must be, because he does not seem lucky). Maybe's Daughter was aglow in a way I'd never seen her – perhaps had never seen anyone. She said she had found what she wanted. I am happy for her, and even happier because she has opted to stay aboard my ship.

I am certain her new found... Whatever she found will be very useful.

Time for a vote, thread - Do we bring tomb-colonists to the Sorrow-Spiders, or not?