The Let's Play Archive

Sunless Sea

by Black Wombat

Part 25: Scintillating

Journal entry twenty four – Scintillating

From The Journal of Captain Petra Blackwood

June 14th, 1888

I had an unexpected visitor late last night – the Wistful Deviless came, after dinner, in order to have a short conversation. She'd seemed quite distressed about her life in Fallen London, so I did what I could to provide sympathy.

She did not seem very grateful, but I suppose I should not be too surprised over a devil acting that way.

This morning, I'm making one quick stop before the Unfinished sets off.

If I'm to find the snuffer in Port Carneliean, I'm going to need help. The kind of help who's used to tracking down evasive targets. While another snuffer would be best, I wouldn't dare bring one of those onto my ship and a spy comes a close second. I know someone who'll be able to supply me with such folks in exchange for a few favors – and I'm owed a lot of favors.

With that, our supplies were fully prepared and we put out to zee.

June 15th, 1888

I've taken a little time to try to get to know the unusual squid-man who's graced my crew.

He's an unusual one. He's become more than he was, thanks to the patronage of the coral, but I can't say he seems entirely happy with what's become of him. Maybe he'd rather be back in his Rubbery home under the waves. I am not sure what one of them could do that'd make them cast him out like this. Perhaps they, too, have an Empress who is not known for her tolerance of satire.

Omitting a normal visit to Vanderbight.

July 16th, 1888

Once more I set foot in chilly Wither, intending to purchase some Mutersalt. I took the chance on spending a little time in town before we departed again, however.

I saw a familiar-looking shape standing out a bit beyond the shore – but I knew better than to investigate, today. I made my purchase at the market and we departed without anyone being eaten.

Here omitting run-ins with a lifeburg and a faustic corsair.

June 18th, 1888

We've made it to Mount Palmerstone once more. My interest in this place has waned, now that the whole ordeal with the Deviless is behind me, but the Admiralty still needs me to stop in.

My contact was... Not who I thought it would be. It seemed less like someone used to living at the foot of the volcano, and more like someone who lives near the top. In any case, they told me some useful things, and I took the remainder of my time at port to ascend to a high point and simply look out over the Zee.

The Zee is a mysterious place. Even with how long I've been out here – which is longer than most Zee captains who decide to go farther than the colonies, I reckon – I still can't say I really understand most of it. But each voyage sheds a little more light on many of these mysteries. Someday, maybe it'll all make sense... Or I'll get close enough that it'll drive me mad. I could see it going either way.

Omitting a normal visit to Frostfound and the hunting of an eel.

June 21st, 1888

We arrived back at the Principalities. The Outcast seems agitated. Or maybe excited. Or scared. It's awfully hard to tell, with rubbery men. In any case, as soon as we docked, we made way for the special grotto.

The Outcast presented the coral with the piece, and it was happy to see it. However, you can't really play a game with one piece. It needs a whole slew of items to garnish its side of the board – however, as it listed what it needed, it occurred to me that I'd already collected almost the entire group of bits and bobs.

I surrendered one item to it, and it rewarded me with enough Scintillack to fill my hold. I'll bring the others on another trip. No sense getting more reward than one can carry.

Now, while I could return to London and sell this, I seem to recall there being an offering from the priests of Varchas for Scintillack. I should bring this there, first, and see what I can wring out of them.

June 24th, 1888

I had a very particular encounter in the Khanate, today.

While wandering the roads, as I've become wont to do, a woman insisted on selling me a fish. Now, I'm used to the fishmongers in Wolfstack, but you can usually get them to leave you alone by offering them an embarrassingly low price for their goods. That doesn't work here, it seems. Several of the crew looked at me oddly as I drug something nearly as large as I back aboard, but at least Slaan seemed happy... Which is usually a sign I should have hardtack for dinner.

June 27th, 1888

I've returned to Varchas, with the intent of pawning my Scintillack. But as I entered the place, an unusual woman caught my eye.

I'd seen her before, but not stopped to talk to her. A fungus merchant of some kind – not unlike the folks out at the Funging colony, I reckon, and probably with some of the same problems. Still, her reaction to my question about her cough made me wonder. I decided to pay a visit to the local hospital and see how the folks here treat fungal infections.

They call it 'Lung-bloom', here, and their methods are about as advanced as ours – As the saying goes, there's nobody in all of the Zee who brings more of their job home with them than a shroom collector. I guess it's no different here.

The lung-bloom problem is serious enough to merit its own ward, as is one other; they say people can go mad talking to mirrors, and they treat it like a sickness. While I've certainly heard rumors about mirrors doing strange things since the Fall, I've never heard of one talking to someone. Then again, there's no place else with so many mirrors in one place. I guess if the mirrors were going to make a play for somewhere, it'd be here – but I feel kind of ridiculous even writing that down, let alone believing it.

I noticed, as we walked, that the place seemed to be short-staffed, especially in trained medical aid. I'm no doctor, myself, but I do have one at my disposal, and I offered his services if they needed some assistance. It turns out they were a little behind. We were only allowed to serve in the open ward, but I don't think either of us really object to that, and at the end of the day we really did seem to have done good.

By the time we finished, it was time to either return to the inn, or depart to my ship – The latter option taken by the doctor. I will have to wait for tomorrow to go speak to the priests about the Scintillack. Tonight, I will say here, and I will not sleep. Not after what happened last time.

June 28th, 1888

After being escorted from the city, I was not permitted to return immediately – Something about not wanting too many foreigners at once. Given that there didn't exactly seem to be a line of people waiting to get in, I simply waited away from the dock for a few hours and then entered once more.

While I said I wouldn't farm SAY events, this is one of the few places I feel like it makes sense in the narrative to do it. The explanation above is what the guard says if you come back without SAY, and the whole process makes sense in a 'bizarre theocratic bureaucracy' kind of way.

Today, there was no dallying. I traveled directly to the temples to do my business. However, the priests were busy when I arrived, so I spent some time admiring the stonework. The tale makes little sense, but it's at least nice to know what the locals believe.

When I did meet a priest, I decided to ask him about the dream I'd had the first time I'd stayed – It clung to me in an unnerving sort of way. He seemed flabbergasted that I didn't know that mirrors are apparently evil and will give you nightmares – I'll have to inform the mirror in my quarters that it's been slacking. In any case, he gave me a charm that's supposed to ward against such things – At least here in Varchas, this might be valuable.

The mirror-charm also works as a source of Viric, for the Last Curator.

Finally, we got to the business of trading. Unfortunately, because of some trade embargoes, I can only bring small quantities of the Scintillack into the city at a time, and they refuse to make the trade anywhere other than in a sanctified chamber – Making what should have been a quick procedure take all day. And will probably take all of tomorrow.

Hopefully, at least, I'll sleep well between now and then.

Just as a reminder, Scintillack sells in London for 70 echos. Artifacts sell for 100 each, and don't take up slots in your hold. Huge profits to be had here.

July 1st, 1888

We returned to Adam's Way, and after what I'd learned about Varchas from spending time in the hospital there, I decided to visit the hospital here to see what I could learn about the people of the Presbyterate. I'd heard that the people here suffer from illnesses no Londoner could ever catch.

It was true, it seemed. There are those in the Presbyterate who's souls burn too brightly, it seems, and it burns them from the inside out.

Which sounds a little like nonsense, but it seems like it might be true. Those known to be overly emotional and who've spent too long under Stone's light are apparently likely to self-immolate. It didn't make any sense at first, and still mostly doesn't, but there do seem to be patterns to it. Perhaps I could leave some of my more expressive crewmen in Adam's Way for a time and see if they explode... But I suspect they'd be fed to the river, first.

July 3rd, 1888

As we progressed west from Adam's Way, through the Crying Heights, we sighted several colonies of Blue Prophets, the birds that supposedly call the names of the soon-to-die.

During our approach to Port Carnelian, one of these flocks swooped in from the west. It was too late to avoid them – I had the crew move to battle stations.

For a flock of birds, they have an awful lot of fight in them. They assaulted crew on deck, smashed glass, got themselves caught in air vents – All the while intermittently sqalking and saying names. Eventually, we killed enough that the swarm fled into the inky blackness.

I'm making note of a few names I heard during the battle – I can say, almost for certain, I heard one of the creatures say Celia. However, even with everything I've seen, I'm not about to believe a group of vicious parrots can predict who's about to die, and am not worried.

Say hello to the most annoying enemy in the game. They have the mobility and AI of bat swarms, so they home in on you and never leave. They've got a lot of HP, They do decent damage and attack fairly quickly, so they can tear you up pretty well – you can see it dropped the Unfinished to half health. And worst of all, the rewards are terrible – You either GAIN 10 terror in order to get a Tale of Terror, or you get 50-ish feathers that sell for 1 echo each in London.

The remainder of our trip to the Port will, hopefully, be uneventful.

July 4th, 1888

After the battle to get here, our visit was rather uneventful.

I gave the 'diplomat' I'd brought along a little started money and sent her out to make contacts. I don't know what will come of it, but hopefully, with a little help, she'll be able to assist me in rooting out the snuffers.

It will probably take more than one agent to do it, though – I'll bring backup sometime soon.

With that work completed, I spent some time getting to see some of the local sights and speak to some of the natives. And by natives I mean tigers. Because on the Elder Continent talking tigers are simply the form the natives take. Really, they're very civilized, but I suspect that if this is what the colonists had found after crossing the Atlantic, they'd have never left the protection of the Crown.

Omitting a previously-seen encounter at the Fathomhold.

July 7th, 1888

We're nearly home – We stopped briefly on Mutton Island, and then it will be on to London.

We arrived at just the right time, it seemed. Some sort of ceremony was going on. While I was not, exactly, invited, I wasn't going to pass up this chance to see the locals doing whatever they do out here when they think nobody is watching.

It turns out that thing is 'Murder people'. Was that a local, or a visitor? Are they going to stay dead? Will the drownies take them? Who is the Drowned Man? I have so many questions, and yet think it would be such a bad, bad idea to ask any of them.

Instead, we are going to be promptly departing. Several of my crew have complained. I've told them, in so many words, to shove it. We're almost home, the Unfinished badly needs repairs, and I'm not going to get into trouble in this kind of situation.