The Let's Play Archive

Sunless Sea

by Black Wombat

Part 20: Serious firepower

Journal entry 19 – Serious firepower

From The Journal of Captain Petra Blackwood

April 2nd, 1888

I spent much time in port preparing for our next departure. Both our coffers and our hold were dangerously empty, and I have taken the steps needed to rectify that situation.

My first trip was to the address that The Cat's Claw had provided me. Surprisingly, perhaps, the captain wasn't there – I had much expected to be sent to a house for the infirm. Instead, I was greeted by her husband.

I told him as much of the truth about his wife as I thought he could handle – Knowing terrible things happened to someone you loved is one thing, being told they are a terrible person is quite another. Fortunately, he knew the passwords to open the box – and while I had fully intended to open this chest for myself, I couldn't helped but be moved by his story, of a devout man having lost his wife to the zee. I allowed him to open the chest, instead.

He did not want most of its contents; merely a trinket to remember his wife by. They mean nothing to me, of course, but will go a very long way in funding further expeditions.

Okay, straight talk – You can have one of two reward sets for opening the chest, and which one you get is randomized each time. I don't like this for several reasons. On one hand, not choosing weather her most prized possessions were 'Incredible treasures and a record of zeetime adventure' or 'Racy literature and a box of sunlight' – the other reward is 10 Romantic Literature, 2 Outlandish Artifacts and a filled Mirrorcatch Box – suggests that Failbetter didn't much think about what kind of person the Captain was.

A bigger problem is that while the chest itself does not take up any hold space, the Literature/Box reward takes up 10, and none of it can be sold in London. In fact, we have not even located where we can sell the Literature yet. In theory, both sets of contents have about the same value, but in practice one is almost impossible to capitalize on, while the other you can mostly sell off in London and finish it at Polythreme.

What I'm saying is, we got really lucky, because you can randomly roll to basically not get a reward from this quest.

From here, with a few new items in my pockets, I decided to procure some funds for my continued exploration of the zee. My first stop was the Department of Marine Acquisitions, of course, and when I was there, I had to decide what to do with the Intelligence I'd recovered. While I greatly like and admire the Dark-Spectacled Admiral, my funds are incredibly low, and I decided to turn this item over to the Voracious Diplomat.

As I handed off my collected notes, I couldn't help but feel I had, somehow, made a poor choice. She was very calm about the things I had revealed, collected by wandering Parabola and from a man trapped by clothing. The Admiral, at least, has the good sense to be unnerved by these things. I shall do my best to avoid business with her in the future.

I next turned my attention to the matter of my magician. He'd told me he needed to visit the Forgotten quarter – I do not know the way, myself, beyond 'South-west'. Merely that those who simply search for it blindly are often eaten by devils. Fortunately, the Magician told me he could find the way in a honey-dream; while I've been invited to dream by many men, I will say, the magician was the most business-like in the matter that I've ever encountered.

The road was not easy – It is not easy to keep one's focus while dreaming, much less when inhabitants of that distant realm are specifically hostile towards you. But in the end, we found the path we would need to trod in the waking world.

When I inquired about the nature of his plan, he told me he would lure his enemy into the wooden totem he had. A simple enough plan, but not without dangers – I do hope I don't have to kill him. I have started to enjoy his company. In any case, he cannot move forward with it yet – He needs Scintillack, something easily enough acquired on our next outing.

With the road to the Forgotten Quarter open to us, but nothing to be done there yet, I returned to the admiralty office, to turn in my port reports and inquire about where I was needed to visit next. In front of the office, I was approached by a woman who immediately pegged me as a zee-captain – It is nice to know I am starting to have that air about me. She said she was looking for a job. I questioned her shortly, and she seemed confident; I sent her to the Unfinished to prepare a bunk, and then entered the office to do my work.

I took from there a letter of recommendation to the drydock, where I had the Unfinished taken in to be worked on. It also gave me a chance to relax for the evening.

I took the chance to go out and unwind. Trips to zee are long, after all – Even I get tired of the quiet, and cold, and wet, and not having anyone around me who thinks of me as something other than a captain.

Fortunately, tonight need not be like that. I will be back to zee tomorrow morning, to finish the Cannoneer's new weapon, to speak to a Deviless, perhaps even to play chess. But tonight, I am in my town home, not lonely, not cold, and not entirely eager for tomorrow to come.

Omitted – An uninteresting visit to Venderbight.

April 3rd, 1888 -

We arrived this afternoon on Mt. Palmerstone. As warm and sulfurous as ever, but I tried not to let it bother me as I ascended to the top of the volcano while my crew below loaded the devilbone dice we would need for the Cannoneer's project. The Brass Embassy has asked me to independently verify what the Deviless has told me, and the only way I reckoned I could do that was to approach as close as possible to the wall without crossing over and seeing what I could hear.

I heard... Things, up near the wall. Things speaking, without a doubt. There were words and ideas and concepts, but I can only remember fragments of it all. I blacked out from it, and the deviless, who seemed quite happy to see me, brought me to somewhere safe. I suppose I should be grateful, although I feel it was only something she did because of the fact that I was acting as her courier – or so I suspect.
She may seem like a kindly woman, but that doesn't mean I trust her. Although it is nice to know she won't simply yank out my soul in my sleep – I think. Maybe she did. I'm not sure how being soulless is supposed to feel. I guess if this is how it feels, I won't miss it.

In any case, I gave her the message and the gift meant for her. She was delighted at what the message said – Apparently they've accepted her first olive branch. She's passed on an even more important message for me. I will be delivering this as soon as possible – I don't want a message this important on my person should a devil find out my part in this plan.

Omitted – A normal visit to Frostfound.
April 6th, 1888

Today I spent longer than I had intended in Port Cecil. We arrived in the morning, and the first order of business was to lead the more daring members of my crew out onto the coral, to try to gather some scintillack.

Things went far better than last time. By the time we'd filled our baskets, the Zee was whispering to us – but none of the crew were yet experiencing wild hallucinations. I spoke to them, as we returned to the ship, about what they had heard. It seemed everyone experienced identical voices – Drakli, Mycelia and Jones all confirmed it. My interest seemed to unnerve them slightly, so I did not press the matter much.

My desire to understand more about the coral lead me to speak to the chess-players, but many will only speak over chess. I decided to stay and play a few games.

The games here, however, are painfully distracted. I asked fewer questions that I meant too, and played more games – eventually coming up against players who are clearly out of my caliber. Still, the whole experience was illuminating, and I feel remarkably clear-headed for how long I'd spent playing. All the same, it was time to depart – I had heard rumors of several large zee-creatures in the vicinity. As we go, we will hunt them, to help fulfill the Merchant Venturer's most recent, long-outstanding request.

Failed to get a screenshot of it, but all we get from the shark is a trophy and some supplies. The 'Initiate at max range and slowly back up' strategy seems to work very well, since the AI update.

April 9th, 1888

We passed through the Khanate, today – zailing south from Port Cecil. It really is a beautiful place, in a way. The lights they use make the place seem so very different from London, and the architecture is beautiful, in its way – Much more space and grace, unlike London which has expanded to fill itself in nearly every neighborhood.

We put ashore briefly so I could admire it. I did not stay to enjoy it too long, however. The last thing I would want is for some of my crew to wind up in the custody of the White-and-Golds, and I feel like shore leave would inevitably result in that.

Here omitted uninteresting visits to Khan's Shadow and Polythreme.

April 13th, 1888

As we approached Station III, the Cannoneer was positively aglow. He's been spending the last day and a half talking to anyone who will listen about the specifics of the weapon he's going to prepare. I am not one of the people who's willing to listen much, but I've heard him assuring quite a few folks that it won't destroy the ship. I hope he's right.

The process of making the weapon was long and laborious, even with both the Smith and Cannoneer working on it. However, ultimately, the process was not fatal to either of them, or anyone else. The weapon they revealed to me seemed like a very improbable device, made of Heartmetal and things not quite real. Naturally, I ordered it to be mounted at once.

The Momento Mori is the best all-around gun in the game. Feast your eyes upon its grandeur. If someone who knows latin better than I could translate the flavor text, I'd be appreciative.

While it was being mounted, I tried to speak to the Heartmetal Smith a little more – to try to understand this place a little better.

He did not seem interested in speaking.

With the Momento Mori mounted on our forward gun port, we once more departed the shores of Station III. The Cannoneer suggested we take Glader's Morn back to London, probably hoping we run across some pirates. It isn't a terrible idea.

April 14th, 1888

Perhaps it is the presence of the Memento, but my sleep last night was terrible troubled.

The eye I often dream of was bigger and closer than ever. It seemed to be so close that my ship was almost touching it. What does this mean? Maybe I should hold my secrets closer to my chest. Or perhaps that won't help.

In any case, we discovered an unfortunate pirate frigate today who was the first target of the Memento.

I am happy to report it did not blow the ship apart, or rend the minds of our gunners. It did, however, imbue the shot it fired with a terrible glowing power, and made very short work of our enemy. It will be a welcome addition to our arsenal.

April 15th, 1888

We arrived at Mutton Island today, for a final stop before heading home. Imagine my surprise when I found a letter waiting for me.

It's from the Dapper Chap. He says that, in the course of his work, he's rendered a young man without a home or family, and is endeavoring to find a new home for him, and if I would mind terribly if he could stay with me. Or us. He said us, but I think he means me – His home is not suitable for children.

It could have been worse news, I suppose. That he'd been taken for the production of red honey, for example. But I am not a fan of children, in general, and I do not think I will take to having one so arbitrarily inserted into my life... Not that I will refuse him. The orphans in London have a hard life, and if I can spare both a child from that and balm my sweetheart's guilty conscience all at once, I will.

But if he thinks I'm going to stay in London and play wet-nurse to a mewling little brat, I'm going to throw them both into the gutter.