Part 22: Quickly home againJournal entry 21 Quickly home again
From The Journal of Captain Petra Blackwood
April 27th, 1888 - Morning
We took our gracious leave of the Empire of Hands this morning, one incredibly annoying person lighter than we'd arrived. I've had a thought buzzing at the back of my mind for the last few days. Something pulling me south, with dire intent. Only today has it solidified into an actual idea, however.
It involves my Navigator. I don't know why I didn't think of it before, really He wishes to be less than he is, but he already became less once. I can help him do it again, but still be of use to me and my crew. So shall he earn his penance, though work. He did not seem delighted with the idea, but he certainly did deem it acceptable. I've had him set a course for the South, back to Kingeater Castle, where all his problems started and will certainly end. Poetic, in a way.
April 27th, 1888 Evening
As we sailed out of the Empire of Hands, Draki came and got me from my quarters, saying a matter needed my attention.
It seems as though, with this departure, we gained an unusual stow-away. While I've heard of the Apes sometimes trying to escape from the island like this which is why I brought my pistol when I'd been called down, originally I had not been expecting it to be the Foundling. She told me, with childish earnestness, that she wanted to come zailing with me and to please please not send her back to the Empire.
Now, the Zee is no place for a child. But neither is an Empire filled with beings who would strip her soul from her at the first chance they had, or a group of pirates who would throw her in a pot or worse.
I told her she could stay at least for now and I would reconsider when we arrived somewhere more hospitable. She did not seem to hear the last part, of course, and simply bounded away to explore the parts of the ship she'd never been able to explore due to me having something resembling security aboard the Unfinished.
I've set Celia to look after the girl for now, and to try to teach her the laws of the Zee. She seems the sort who could keep her in line. And if she can't, well we'll see.
April 28th, 1888
The crew has realized something unusual is happening.
I tried to gather the things I would need in secret, for I knew few of those among us would understand what I was about to do, or why it was the best thing that could happen to the poor Navigator. But they saw me, here and there Especially that SM woman, she always seems to be around a corner when I'm going about my duties.
We made landfall, and I ordered the rest of the crew to wait aboard while me and the Navigator ascended to steps of the castle.
It all went smoothly, breathtakingly smoothly. I removed from him all the things he would no longer need while his laughter echoed from the bowl of the castle. By the time I finished, tears of joy had wet his face, amid a few errant streaks of crimson.
He is better now.
I have fixed him.
Here omitted standard visits to Mangrove Collage, the Uttershroom, and the Isle of Cats.
May 1st, 1888
Today marked another visit to the Fathomking's hold. I've been thinking of Dr. Snark, recently has he come here? Is he in one of these glowing spires? I wonder if he is happy, or at least content. But I don't think I am welcome to go looking, and am not certain I wish to be seen expressing enough interest to ask.
I have heard the Fathomking can restore nearly anyone, for a price, however. I occasionally wonder what Snark's would be.
It looks like I was wrong! We can, in theory, get back the Magician and start his quest line all over again. The cost of that, by the way, is 7 Captivating Treasures, 7 Scintilack, and 1 Searing Enigma For a total purchasing cost of 12,655 echos. This really seems like a cruel joke.
By the way, even the Fathomking can't bring back Maybe's Daughter if she doesn't return from the Wicket. Even his power has limits.
I had come today to offer the Memento Mori to the King. However, upon reflection, I have decided I might yet have need of it. Instead, I have simply requested a boon; which he has graciously granted me.
Normally, when we depart the Hold, I order a north-westerly course. However, today was different. Today, I've decided, I am no longer going to let some overgrown zee-urchin tell me where I can and cannot zail.
I have the largest gun on the Unterzee. I think it's about time I started using it.
With Maybe's Rival keeping our new engine running hot as can be, the creature could not keep up with us.
All it could do was yell which blistered the paint and gave several of us, myself included, splitting headaches, but that wasn't enough to stop us.
After a sustained barrage, it stopped moving. The crew seemed... Oddly quiet. I don't think anyone had expected us to win. But I had been confident, and only one or two people had spontaniously burst into flames during the whole affair and the buckets of water I'd had prepared before hand had done their job admirably.
I had the creature hauled aboard, but not much was left of it before long like many of the Zee's odder residents, it dissolved under close scrutiny. However, it left behind its heart A gorgeous mass of Irrigo. I know someone who will want this very badly.
Three torn-out pages precede this one. The edges of this page are stained with large ink plots, as though someone attempted to cover it, but the middle of the page is miraculously ink-free.
There was a Man so Wise,
He jumpt into
A Bramble Bush,
And scratcht out both his Eyes.
And when he saw
His Eyes were out,
And reason to Complain,
He jumpt into a Quickset Hedge,
And scratcht them in again.
May 6th, 1888
We arrived at Mutton Island under the cover of very heavy fog; a short stop would do us well, a last little reminder of where we were going to see us home.
While my crew fortified their spirits, I spent a little time surveying the beach. There was a surprising amount of flotsam today it seems as though a ship may have run aground somewhere nearby, in the fog.
I'm not sure what kind of a place needs this many biscuits, but it was a boon for us. Several of the crates that had washed up were still whole; they made a welcome addition to our hold. Crackers will keep, and even if they are fungal, we can at least have something resembling a reasonable kind of tea-time for several weeks.
May 7th, 1888
Once more, London welcomes us home with open arms. We arrived early in the day, so I will finish my goings-about today so much as I can. My first stop was, of course, the Brass Embassy, I knew the deviless would not want to be kept waiting.
We were welcomed to the Embassy quite warmly. My contact there seemed to welcome her, but it turned out she had no need for them to pay her fair. She was quite capable of doing it herself, and enjoy seeing me in minor discomfort at the same time. I hope she's happy here, honestly. It means I'd be more likely to never have her aboard again although if she always pays like this, it might not be so bad.
After that came my normal visit to the Admiralty, and then the Exchange to sell the various trinkets I'd collected at Zee.
With all my business done, I returned home My adopted son was waiting for me there, along with a caretaker the Dapper Gentleman had hired to watch him while we were both away. He asked me many questions about my trips. I remember how my father used to answer those questions Usually by not. I've resolved to be unlike him.
I told him of the time I spent on Visage, and the masks and roles. He was delighted at the idea, and spent the next few hours walking around pretending to act like he thought people in various animal masks might. I reckon I may have given our caretaker a project. In any case, he seems happy, and safe, and maybe that's enough.